Army of One
by Mark E. Hendricks
Review by Paul Haggerty
Not Avail Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 1412063086
Date: 05 November, 2005 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Matti is smaller, faster, and stronger than any warrior ever created. She also has the benefits of telepathy which lets her detect her enemies at range, read their thoughts, and implant suggestions. Telekinesis allows her to move objects at a distance, break things, and even set things on fire. Her brain is enhanced to allow her to learn, adapt, and plan at lightning speeds. Unfortunately that same intelligence breeds questions about her purpose, doubts about the rightness of her orders, and compassion for those around her. Qualities which she must keep secret lest the the company that created her, Biologically Engineered – Genetically Enhanced - Warrior, Incorporated, seek to cure her of her defects. More problematical is that the very abilities that the Terran Army seeks to use to conquer its enemies also make her a prize for every army and revolutionary group in the galaxy, if only they can lay hands on her. Before long Matti is caught in a web of corporate and military greed, fraud, espionage, and plain old fashioned treason.
Army of One caught my eye when its author was doing a signing in my local bookstore. As a first book by a new author of a small press I figured it has about a 50/50 chance of being any good. The opening was a bit stilted, but starting a story can be a challenge even to an experience author, and the prose improved as the characters and situation were introduced. Some of the characters are a bit one-sided, but Hendricks still makes them likable (or unlikeable) as we're introduced to the good-natured and staunchly loyal engineers, the ethics-challenged corporate weasels, evil and dangerous extra-planetary spies, and, of course Matti, the somewhat naive goddess of destruction, who searches to define herself and her place in the world while being used and abused by all comers seeking to control her as if she were nothing more than a gun. The plot isn't terribly complex, but it is engaging as Matti swims against the competing interest that continually tug at her from all sides. For all her engineered simplicity, Matti grows through the book, discovering abilities, emotions, and those hard truths of life.
Hendricks shows some good ideas and a good control of the story. I look forward to his next book.