Mindfracked has a lot in common in Altered Carbon and that is already a very good endorsement for me. I am a huge fan of Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk series and have always felt the body-jumping element of his "stacks" was a concept that needed to be explored further. While possessing its own identity, I enjoyed that this series managed to cover some of the issues that Altered Caron didn't deal with.
The book opens with a really solid scene where Cassidy, possessing a little girl, proceeds to wipe out a gang that was using children to assemble gun. It is an impressive action scene and perfect for a movie. It also shows the many facets of Cassidy's personality. He's ruthless, compassionate (to a point), and brutally efficient with a sarcastic sense of humor. My favorite moment being where he decides whether to execute someone based on the amount of information they can give but does so in a delightfully sarcastic way.
The future is a dark and dystopian one with the Earth's environment having been destroyed, no social safety net, and a police that primarily exists as a support network for an authoritarian death squad. Cassidy believes in the system but does so in a pragmatic belief that's it's better than the alternatives and that it managed to rescue his family from poverty. Mind you, he hasn't seen his family in a very long time and it's questionable just how much is true
This is a very dark and gritty book with the protagonist faced against an utterly ruthless set of enemies while he's not that much better. There's a focus on conspiracy, lies, and the ability to screw with your mind via technology. No one is safe and several characters normally "safe" in this kind of story are killed horribly. Cassidy's ability to bodyswap is something that only happens a couple of times but shows him adjusting to the differences in body, gender, and the lives he slips into.
Mindfracked is a book with a lot of edge and that is its primary recommendation. This is a hard R book and I feel that if you want that in your fiction then you will find this excellent hard-hitting scifi. This includes Cassidy almost being assaulted when he was still a child before his training kicked in. I did have a small problem with the end of the book where after a delightfully dark and morally bleak situation, the book tried to convince me one group was genuinely good. I didn't buy that in the slightest.
Still, I think this is a really good dark and gritty cyberpunk story. I also listened to it being narrated by Jeffrey Kafer and think the audiobook version is the best way to experience it. He manages to really bring the bleak and uncompromising nature of the protagonist to life. I have since picked up the other two novels in the series and am going to read them one after the other.