The first book in this series, Equations of Life, left us with young super genius mathematician Samuil Petrovitch standing in the ruins of what had been London after taking in millions of refugees from an international nuclear disaster. While the city had been virtually destroyed by an AI, Theories of Flight finds Petrovitch in a slightly better place overall. He has invented an anti-gravity generator that makes him world famous; he ends up having married the nun-warrior he had met in the first book, and it seems like the Metrozone is being rebuilt with the help of Yakuza heir he had rescued a few months ago. However, things of course start to go disastrously wrong.
While the first 1/3 of the book seems to proceed similar to the breakneck pacing of the first novel, I found this book started to bog down a bit as the story proceeded. The first reason is that the lack of back story in terms of world building began to tell – the reader doesn’t really understand the hows and the whys of the Armageddon that is the back drop of the story, and how those events led to a puritanical and powerful American government but no seeming government in England at all. Secondly, the last half of the book is just Petrovitch constantly running, only connecting with his interesting sidekicks digitally only intermittently. Lastly, the limited character development in the first book seemed ok given the short period of time and fast pace of events in the first book. In Theories of Flight, it is never really made clear why Petrovitch and Maddy (badass former nun-warrior) have fallen so desperately in love, nor do we learn much about the other sidekicks who are so seemingly to devoted to him. He is certainly a man with vision and offers some sense of hope in such a dark world, but is that enough to explain it?
That being said, Morden continues to surround his hero with very capable female companions – Maddy, who has become a soldier; Valentina, an calm and fearless explosives expert; Sonja, the strong willedbusinesswoman/politician; and Lucy, the brave young girl who he can’t help but rescue. However, we don’t learn as much about these women as we do about the AI who Petrovich has been hiding, and is constantly learning about humanity. It seems to me as if this was Petrovitch’s most natural relationship, and it still felt a little empty. As with the first book, this one ends with most of the big plot points resolved, with of course enough loose ends to lead into the third in the trilogy. I didn’t love this one as much as the first, but still liked it enough to move immediately into the third.
The AI in this book is named Michael, and I suspect he looks nothing like Vikander. At all.