Book Review: Fracture by EJ Fisch
I am such a huge fan of the previous Ziva Payvan books, and I have been eagerly awaiting a continuation of the story ever since I read that epilogue at the end of Ronan. After 4 long years, it's finally here, and it does not disappoint.
The story follows our familiar friend Aroska Tarbic and his fellow alpha squad teammates Skeet and Zinni in their pursuit of a new threat. There's a lot at at stake for these guys, not only terms of their actual work, but also because of certain clues that could bring them closer to someone Aroska has been searching for for years - someone he knows doesn't want to be found but can't help looking for anyway. What starts out as a dangerous but pretty straightforward mission soon becomes extra complicated, and the alpha squad finds themselves in the middle of an interplanetary gang war while also having to face some of their own personal demons. It's a thrilling adventure from start to finish with plenty of mystery, suspense, and action, all of which is made even more impactful because of the emotional stakes involved.
As always, EJ Fisch's skill for crafting complex characters is very evident here, and it's the relationships between those characters that drive much of the plot and really ramp up the tension throughout. We get to see familiar faces in Aroska, Skeet, Zinni, Director Arion, and others, and I especially loved seeing how Skeet has stepped into his new role as the team's leader. I also really loved Skeet's character arc here and identified with all his emotional turmoil about certain plot events so, so much. Fisch also introduces us to some other fascinating characters in Alistair Manes, Blain Reed, Kimbra Soto, and Serenity Best. Manes is especially good as the story's main antagonist, with just enough Unhinged Lunatic under his cool facade to make you genuinely fearful about what he might do next. He and his subordinates provide a formidable opponent for our protagonists, and it was so fun to see them try to outsmart and outmaneuver one another.
The story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, which is something Fisch has warned about on social media several times now, so I was ready for it. However, it's not as much of a cliffhanger as I feared it might be. The story has a definite beginning, middle, and end, and while not everything is resolved here (not by a long shot), things were wrapped up enough that I didn't feel the need to, say, throw the book at the wall, scream in despair at the unfairness of it all, cry into a bowl of ice cream, or anything like that. Still, I can't wait to read the next book and see how things turn out for these characters. I'm sure it will be just as suspenseful and engaging as this was - if not more so.