Review: Brock Steele – Sphere (Alex Bloodfire)

If you took the Jason Bourne books and mixed them with the movie Total Recall (the original one, with Arnie), you’d get this book.

This is not to say it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read. It does hold together in its world, mostly, by a thin logic. The issue I have is that Brock Steele is 90% reactive and is only meaningfully proactive in the last 30 pages-ish. There isn’t a lot of tension – he doesn’t really ever seem to be in real danger – but there is a whole lot of driving around. We all know how I feel about that.

Brock Steele, six months out from an attack by persons unknown with a baseball bat, and three months out from a medically-induced coma, is working as a trainer at a gym, but doesn’t remember anything prior to being in the hospital. From the tenor of things, it doesn’t exactly seem like he’s been trying all that hard to figure out why he was attacked or who he is. He’s living a life, hates his boss, has a crush on a young woman named Sarah, and in general seems rather ordinary.

One night at a party, someone spikes his drink. Instead of collapsing at the party, he runs out into the night, collapsing there instead. This seems to be the catalyst for the rest of the book, and his quest to figure out who he is.

Steele’s being followed by some shady characters as he winds his way from place to place, often injuring himself along the way, either by fighting or by banging his head or fists against walls during nightmares, which was rather odd.

Along the way, Sarah is fired for trying to help Steele get his medical records – a doctor hilariously tells him that he is not entitled to his own records, which made me roll my eyes – and wouldn’t you know it, she’s a computer hacker. Steele’s buddy Ty, whom he does not remember, is a prolific car thief, getting them various rides so the three of them can drive all over the place. It turns out that the people after him want a thumb drive that apparently has some incriminating information on it. What’s that information? Who knows?

Steele roams around and speaks to a bunch of different people, but never seems to get any significant information until someone late in the book lays it out for him and the reader. At the end, Steele does the infodump duties by suddenly remembering everything and explaining what’s on the drive and why it’s bad news for the bad guy.

Eventually, he meets the bad guy and they duke it out over a bridge Steele’s been avoiding. He suddenly remember why that is, too, and just when he has the bad guy on the ground, instead of finishing him, he goes over to retrieve a gun he knocked out of the bad guy’s hand, setting things up for another book.

Overall, I’m giving it 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3, because internally, it’s at least consistent, if not always believable.

Thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for the reading copy.