3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Mason Thomas is a robotics expert at a company called Phoenix, but he isn't just your average robotics expert. Mason is a Christian prophet who has cryptic dreams that end up coming true. Mastermind by Tom Wheeler is the second book in The Last Messenger trilogy. The US is dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack in this book, but there is already more trouble right around the corner as foreign governments look to infiltrate the US government with androids. Yes, androids! Espionage and assassinations are commonplace in this riveting thriller that combines political and religious themes with science fiction.
I don't think any summary I can write will do this book's plot justice. There are a multitude of subplots, all beautifully coming together by the end with so many characters and conflicts. It is difficult to manage a story that spans so many nations, but the author intelligently brings everything together to form a conclusion that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
The book isn't just about androids assassinating people—it presents us with questions that may be too difficult to answer. How much of your freedom are you willing to sacrifice in order to be safe? Would you allow the government to implant biometric identification chips in you for the sake of preventing terrorism? How much of someone can you replace with robotic parts until they're a completely different person?
Mason is not the kind of hero that typically saves the day. He may be a prophet, but he's still just a regular person with no experience when it comes to espionage. Although he is a devout Christian now, he is not perfect, and the sins of his past eventually catch up with him. His visions are cryptic and difficult to understand, and there are moments where he finds himself wondering why his god allows so many bad things to happen. All these things serve to make him more human, allowing the author to write about religious themes without sounding like he's preaching to us.
Seeing as Mason is not involved in international espionage, the story is told through many other characters as well. Despite the many primary and secondary characters, no one feels underdeveloped or uninteresting. One of my favorites was Rihanna Zeva, a tough assassin on the run who has also recently converted to Christianity after encountering Mason in the first book.
There is nothing I really disliked about this book, except some editing issues I cannot overlook. Most of the actual writing errors are minor, except one obvious typo. The bigger issue lies in the formatting of the book; some pages are misnumbered, and I noticed a few instances where the font changed for no apparent stylistic reason. Sometimes, entire sentences or phrases are unnecessarily italicized, causing the emphasis to lose its effect.
I can easily give this book 3 out of 4 stars for its complex plot, interesting characters, and suspenseful writing. I would not hesitate to give it 4 out of 4 stars if the editing errors were corrected.
I suspect Christian readers will enjoy this book more as it contains heavy Christian themes, though I was able to enjoy it despite not being Christian. As for sexual content, the most that is directly shown is a couple beginning to kiss passionately as a prelude to what follows; characters also mention past sexual acts. This is the second book in a series, but past events are explained enough for it to be read by someone who hasn't read the first as well. I would recommend this brilliantly crafted tale to all fans of political thrillers.
View: on Bookshelves