One of the great things about joining a reading community like The Cannonball Read is that I’ve really broadened my reading horizons. I’ve tried genres that I would never had read before, with a lot of positive results.
Altered Carbon is a book that I never would have read before joining up with this group. Sure, I would have watched the Netflix show, but I wouldn’t have really cared about the source material, saying something like “that’s not really in my wheelhouse.”
We were watching the show (and really, not having much of a clue as to what was going on), and I saw a bunch of other reviews for this, so I decided to read it. And guess what? I wasn’t really in my wheelhouse.
At an unknown point in the future, when humans are living on other planets besides earth, it becomes possible to live for as long as you can afford. Once your physical body dies, your memory and your general being (your soul) can be transplanted into a new body (a sleeve) at any time. Everything is kept on a chip located at the top of your spinal cord. If that chip is destroyed, then so are you.
Unless you are super duper wealthy, and run constant satellite backups and keep clones of yourself for just-in-case reasons.
Or if you are Catholic. They don’t believe in re-sleeving. When you’re gone, you’re gone, and that’s it.
Takeshi Kovacs wakes up in a new body on a new planet and finds that he’s been hired as a private investigator by one of the wealthiest man on earth to solve a murder…his own. Laurens Bancroft refuses to accept the results of the police investigation into his recent death, and so re-sleeves former UN envoy (and current hired gun) Kovacs to solve the mystery for him. The police think Bancroft committed suicide, but Bancroft can’t understand why he would do that.
And so Kovacs dives into Bancroft’s and finds that underneath the shiny layer of sunshine and money is a world of dirty sex, drugs, and general disgust. He also realizes that there is more to his new body than anybody told him. His sleeve has a lot of enemies around Bay City (a future version of San Francisco) and Kovacs has to watch his step.
Some parts of this I really liked. I appreciated the future world as described by Morgan, with the AI Hendrix hotel (although I preferred the Netflix version of the Poe hotel), and the ability to have secret meetings that all take place on another plane of existence, and the refusal of the Catholics to take part in this new normal of humanity. I also like the book versions Kovacs and Ortega WAY more than I did on the Netflix show. (Yes, Joel Kinnaman is nice to look at, but the chemistry between Joel and Martha Higareada was zero. She was not great.) I really felt for them and the weirdness of their relationship.
But for the most part, this book was a miss for me. It was messy and confusing. At times, the violence was unbearable (the torture scenes were absolutely sickening). I wanted to know more about the Catholics and why their faith was still so strong when it seemed like the rest of the world didn’t care about religion. I know there are a few more books about Kovacs and his adventures in re-sleeved bodies, but I don’t care enough about him as a character or about Morgan’s future to follow up.