War Games (Behind Blue Eyes #3) by Anna Mocikat Book Review

Write on: Wed, 04 May 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 738


BEHIND BLUE EYES: WAR GAMES by Anna Mocikat is the third installment of the Behind Blue Eyes series. A series about a young cybernetically enhanced super-soldier, Nephilim, who has been working as a brainwashed member of a brutal megacorp-backed death squad for years. Nephilim briefly got her freedom but has since been forced back into the ironically-named Guardian Angels' service.

What separates Behind Blue Eyes from other cyberpunk works is that it really does go all into the discussion of corporate control, propaganda, bread and circuses, as well as how people voluntarily give up control over their lives to the machine. It does this while also not forgetting that people probably came here to see cyborgs with superspeed as well as claws tear people up like Wolverine or get into Matrix-esque gunfights that are lovingly detailed.

The story begins as an almost immediate sequel to FALLEN ANGELS, where someone has been committing a series of brutal assaults and murders on Guardian Angels despite their super-soldier status. Their weaknesses have been sold to the highest bidder and the serial killer may have the support of the mysterious Rosprom Corporation. Anna Mocikat is a master of tension as she manages to make the scenes between Metatron and Nephilim both sexually charged as well as revolting. Metatron is an incredibly well-realized bad guy and his arguments make sense. In a future where the vast majority of people are brainwashed fools or corrupt corporate executives, he's one of the few remaining philosophers as well as thinkers. He's also disgusting because the audience never forgets that he's selectively erased Nephilim's memory so she can give no informed consent to their "romance."

Nephilim, herself, is going through an interesting development as we saw her become a more traditional heroine when she had access to her full memories but now is sliding further and further down Metatron's worldview of us vs. them. It's a unique take and makes it clear that she's heading closer and closer to the Dark Side. There's also a very real chance she's not going to come out of it. Part of what makes Anna Mocikat's books interesting is the fact her protagonists can and do make the journey to villain while continuing to be our POV characters as seen in her Shadow City books.

We also see other characters take a walk on the dark side as well as show grittier sides to their characterization. Romantic lead Jake seemed like a perfect boyfriend in the first book but that was just a cover for serving as a honey pot. While Fallen Angels provided some scenes from his perspective, the new book provides some insight into his most unlikable qualities. Jake flat out does not care about any of the other Guardian Angels, collateral damage, or even his own side as long as he gets to "rescue" Nephilim. He's happy to abet murder and worse if it gets him closer to her and it makes him both interesting as well as despicable.

I admit, part of what attracts me to the Behind Blue Eyes world is the juxtaposition of the beautiful Matrix-esque leather-clad supersoldiers with its social commentary and pitch black storytelling. There's likable protagonists in the book like Shiro, Spyder, and Finwick. People who just want to do the right thing but are caught in the corruption of a system that show no one "good" is going to come to power no matter who wins the corporate wars. No one is a cartoon villain either, well except for the misogynist serial killer but that goes without saying, and are following motives that make sense in the dark world they've found themselves.

These are fantastic books with great action, storytelling, deep characterization, and writing. I think my only complaint is the fact the story is very much a middle portion of the series. We don't get a resolution on a lot of the plots and a good deal is set up for resolution in the sequels. This is the Empire Strikes Back of the series and I am already eager to get the next volume.

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C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.