I used to never ever give up on a book, no matter how wretched. I’m getting better at that, but I’m still learning when to give up. This one had one character interesting enough that I stuck with it, but then I was sorry I had.
The story covers three characters, basically: there’s Nicco, some kind of android with a Bladerunner-like expiration date, who’s trying to get the magic doohickey (the Bohr Maker, a centuries-old, illegal software program that can basically recreate your body to do whatever you want) so he can stay alive. There’s Kirsten, the cop who’s chasing the missing Bohr Maker and also sleeping with Nicco on the side and sadistically enjoying his death throes. Both of these characters are awful. But then there’s Phousita, a homeless woman from the slums who’s just trying to keep herself and her small band of people alive. When the original thief of the Maker dies outside the abandoned factory they’re squatting in, she gets “infected” with it. She believes she’s been possessed by the spirit of the dead evil sorcerer, and now she’s a witch. She can change her scent to avoid police dogs, she can heal herself and others, she can change her appearance, and much more. Life suddenly got better, but now everyone is after her.
Phousita was interesting, and I wanted to see more of how she learned to use her power, but man, this was a slog. Everyone was kind of a jerk (especially Arif, Phousita’s partner/leader/whatever), so I wasn’t rooting for Nicco to live or Kirsten to solve the case. Phousita is actually granted phenomenal cosmic power, but almost no agency to go with it. She’s captured and bamboozled and ordered by Nicco, Arif, Nicco’s possibly-dead brother, the electronic ghost of the inventor of the Bohr Maker, and on and on.
Some of the futuristic settings are cool, and it’s trying real hard to say some stuff about class and haves/have nots, but the writing is just not strong enough to overcome aggravating characters and a convoluted story.