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Amortals
Matt Forbeck
Angry Robot, 414 pages

Amortals
Matt Forbeck
Matt Forbeck has written and designed games for more than 14 years, for which he has garnered several awards. His most recent title for Wizards of the Coast was Secret of the Spiritkeeper, the kick-off novel for the Knights of the Silver Dragon young reader series for Mirrorstone Books.

Matt Forbeck Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

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When Secret Service agent Ronan Dooley witnesses his own death, he's thrown into the heart of a murder mystery which could topple everything modern society is built around. For in 2056, there are two kinds of people: the haves and have-nots, the mortals and amortals, and Ronan's one of the latter. When he dies, as he's done eight times now, he's immediately brought back to life as a clone, with all the personality and memories of his previous incarnations (as long as he has remembered to back himself up along the way....) As long as he (or his employers) can afford it, he's functionally immortal and unkillable, a trait he shares with society's elite.

This time was different. This time, it was personal. Someone murdered him and made a snuff video of the event to send a message. Ronan Dooley's fighting mad, and on a relentless quest to find out who took him down and why. But retracing his previous incarnation's steps is easier said than done, especially with his murderers and other enemies still gunning for him. With a partner he doesn't want at his side, a boss he no longer entirely trusts hassling him, and everyone from religious fanatics to organized crime looking to shut him up for good, there's every possibility that this iteration of Ronan Dooley may be the last. But as he closes in on the truth, what he finds puts a whole new spin on things. Someone's been planning something big for a very long time, and Dooley's death is the spark that may set the whole thing off.

Amortals has a lot going for it. It's a political thriller with science fiction elements, conspiracy theory flavoring, and a hardboiled edge. It may start off as a guy investigating his own death while contemplating his own mortality (or lack thereof) but things inexorably spiral out of control as layer after layer is removed. The end result is a much deeper, more complex story than I was expecting, with a thought-provoking ending. What you get, thusly, is an action-filled, tense piece with plenty of cinematic moments and a heck of a payoff. Some of the story beats are reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, while Matt Forbeck acknowledges the surface resemblances to Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon; having read some of the former but not the latter, all I can say is that it's a pretty intense read all on its own. Amortals is an SF action-thriller that satisfies on all levels.

Copyright © 2011 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.


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