Black Run: Volume 2 (Ringer) Paperback – 15 Feb 2017
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About the Author
New York Times best-selling novelist and comics writer Karen Traviss is a former defence correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist. She's also been a public relations manager, handled media for the police, and taught TV journalism. Her latest novels, GOING GREY and BLACK RUN, are the first in the Ringer techno-thriller series set in the world of private military contractors. She's received critical acclaim for her Wess'har novels – a finalist five times for the Philip K. Dick and Campbell awards – and clocked up a dozen NYT best sellers. Her work with Halo, Gears of War, Batman, GI Joe, Wonder Woman, and other major franchises has earned her a broad range of readers. She lives in Wiltshire, England, where she makes chutney and pursues the impossible dream of baking a good rye loaf.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
So, with that said, what is her style? Technically its third person, but a very intimate third person. Traviss writes excellent characters and really gets into their heads. Whoever's brain the story inhabits truly sees and feels what the character is going through, and characters behave and interact in consistent ways. And the stories really are about the characters and their relationships to each other. In every book she has written, she has created a cast of strong characters, usually with a core of them bonding into a close team or even family.
BLACK RUN, the second book in the RINGER series, is a step away from her many licensed works. Traviss spent years writing predominantly tie-in work, for HALO, GEARS OF WAR, STAR WARS, and others, but even within those licenses she usually found her own corner to work in, or at least explored it with her own style. In the case of STAR WARS, she spent most of her time in a universe about space monks using magic and laser swords focusing on ordinary soldiers in a slave army. But BLACK RUN is in our world and very near our time, which makes the politics and intrigue on display significantly more resonant--and the moral quandaries more impactful.
Being the sequel, I won't go deep into the plot--go to the first book GOING GREY for that. Essentially, Ian is an 18 year old American guy who couldn't be less typical--he's spent his whole life living with his reclusive and paranoid grandmother on a ranch in rural Washington state. He has only socialized with a handful of people besides is grandmother, and spends most of his time watching movies, particularly ones about war and brave men. Also, he's a shapeshifter created in a test tube, implanted in a recovering drug addict, and hidden away from the world by a scientist afraid of the moral and legal implications of what he managed to do. And until he was 18, Ian just thought he was crazy. When he discovers the truth and enters the world at large, the past begins to catch up to him, and he has to adapt quickly to confront it, with the help of a few private military contractors who couldn't be further from the idea of a "mercenary".
BLACK RUN has even more intrigue and tension than GOING GREY, with multiple parties dancing around each other, spying and plotting and utilizing agents to accomplish their ends. This is an excellent addition to Traviss's character focused formula, and keeps you as the reader guessing and keeping track of who knows what. The characters all grow, and the events challenge them and their relationships, and test their character in a world that is increasingly morally complicated. Its compelling, rich stuff and I can't recommend it enough.