I think there is a better book in here than the one I read. My kids are out of school, everyone’s schedule is out of whack, and we’ve had a flood, all of which has led to distracted reading (often when I’m super tired). It took me longer to catch on to some twists than I suspect it ordinarily would have. I expected things to come together in a certain way and then they didn’t, which isn’t a bad thing, but left me not feeling as invested as I otherwise might. The book is sparse on dialog and long on internal monologue and would often leave me questioning. All this leaves me uncertain, is it me, is it the book? I suspect it has more to do with me than the writing itself, as the story is interesting even if I found it incomprehensible at times.
It is the not too distant future. Seas have risen and the migrant problem as a result has risen to create a second class of citizen, which live in ever increasing favela compounds. If you have enough money to afford yearly trips to The Mayo Clinic, you can extend life for a considerable amount of time. Miss one year of treatment and you begin the normal aging process with no chance of reversal. Drones patrol the skies and given instruction will construct buildings. AIs have become so advanced that they now create the next generation of AIs and are hundreds of generations beyond what humans created.
The AIs run pretty much everything on the back end to the point that they create all the software and interfaces, with people no longer having an understanding of how it all works. They have become so inscrutable that people hire Irina Sunden as an intermediary to understand what is going on with their AIs. Irina is a kind of intermediary. She has a special implant that gives her expanded memory and the ability to remember everything. This allows her to interface with AIs and get a sense of what is going on with them, even if she can’t properly comprehend them. Making just enough to get by, and afford next year’s Mayo treatment, Irina finds herself in San Francisco to help yet another client with his AI.
Kern is about as far opposite from Irina as one can get, a refugee in the San Francisco favelas. On his own from a very young age, he had the lucky break to find an old laptop. A laptop with a learning program disguised as game. Once the game was completed he began to use the laptop as a tool to train himself to peak physical fighting fitness. Hours spent drilling on a body bag, hours studying fighting videos frame by frame, and daily parkour as he transverses the every changing favelas has turned Kern into a lethal menace.
Thales is a mathematical genius and new recipient of the neural implant that Irina has. The implant was necessary to save his life after barely surviving the assassination that killed his father. With their assets in Rio frozen, Thales and his surviving family are trying to rebuild their life in Los Angeles as he recuperates from surgery. But Thales is having difficulty adjusting to the implant as the world around him dissolves in mathematical equations describing what he sees, and then the migraines set in.
Big Powers are moving behind the scenes for their own ends. Irina, Kern, and Thales are about to have the routines of their lives disrupted forever as they become active participants in the story they didn’t know was happening around them.