The last book in a good sci-fi series is, for me, a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I’ve got the last bit of the story in my hands and after that, it’s over. On the other hand, I frequently use this event as an excuse to go back and re-read the entire series, start to finish.
And that’s how I feel about the conclusion to Jeff Somers’ five book sci-fi hit-man-with-a-heart series that started with The Electric Church and now ends with The Final Evolution. Pure cyberpunk-noir, this series started off with hitman Avery Cates getting into a fight and ends with… well, I’m just not going to do that to those of you who aren’t familiar with this, at times, violent and over-the-top ongoing story. Avery Cates is the bad guy that you really hate to love… but given the remaining cast of characters, the corruption, and the overall state of the world he inhabits, he’s not so bad. Really. And my second read of the first four books has been great as I’ve once again got to enjoy the shenanigans of Mr. Avery Cates, Gunner Extraordinaire.
It all started with Avery taking on the Monks — a human brain in a mechanical shell. They’re here to convert you to The Electric Church, where you can immediately begin working on your salvation by living forever. And just in case you’re not interested in conversion, they’re perfectly happy to do it without your consent. Oh, and while dodging the Monks out to kill him as he attempts to do the same to the EC, he’s got to deal with the System Security Force… the SSF are a world-wide state police system that enforce the Joint Council’s oppressive rule over all the countries of the world that fought against a one-world government… and lost. Avery has some shady friends, and I use that term loosely. Don’t get attached to anyone in Avery’s circle. Seriously. No. One.
Through the next three books, The Digital Plague, The Eternal Prison (my personal favorite), and The Terminal State, you’ll learn just how hard it is to kill Avery Cates. A man-made plague can’t take him out, and when he survives and is blamed (somewhat legitimately) for the deaths he gets sent to a zero-survival-rate prison and, of course, survives. And even with military conscription in a unit where you’re expected to die quickly and without complaint… Avery is The Man. Oh, and I should mention that throughout this series he’s being helped, hunted, allied, and betrayed by both the number one assassin in the world (who also happens to be Avery’s hero of sorts) and the top SSF Internal Affairs officer. I cannot make this stuff up, but I’m glad Jeff Somers can. I mean it — he’s got two major characters in this series (Marin and Orel — remember those names) who are just as interesting as Cates himself, and I for one would love to see a book series that follows Orel. Marin? Not so much… I hate him. And he’s a fictional character, too. Mission accomplished, Mr. Somers.
So now this all brings us to The Final Evolution… and a showdown of showdowns that I won’t ruin for you. It’s such a great conclusion to the series that to even hint at anything would be to take away part of the enjoyment of the life and times of Avery Cates.
I do want to say Thank You, Mr. Somers. I’ve read so many series where the conclusion was predictable even before the final book was out. And I’ve read a handful of series that just out-and-out disappointed, and I felt the authors themselves didn’t know how to wrap things up. Thankfully you delivered and didn’t disappoint. And now it’s over.
But hey, I got to read five great books and follow along with an outstanding and fleshed-out protagonist. I got humor… tons of it… because Avery Cates is a real smartass. And I got action galore — I wouldn’t be surprised one day to find Avery Cates on the big screen. (Timothy Olyphant is my suggestion for Cates.)
This series, for me, came in under the radar. I lucked into picking up the first book back in 2009 and didn’t even realize a series was planned. Later that year my eye caught the similar-styled-cover for book #2 and after finishing The Digital Plague, I was a fan.
The Avery Cates series is Rated R for mild violence, adult language, excessive violence, backstabbing (literal and figurative), blood, really really harsh adult language, attitude, a tiny bit of honor among thieves, and a half dozen locales that would make John McClane run away crying. There are no role models here, so definitely not for kids… well, at least not for those that you want to see graduate.