Ooooh. This is just as good as Shadow Runners. A fascinating rollercoaster ride.
This novel takes us to the infamous UCE and two of its soldiers. I have to admit that given the other novels's "UCE is evil!" tone, this is a definite switch to find yourself sort-of rooting for the official mission- even if the official mission is capturing Banzai and Ty. It's made clear that the soldiers in question may not be 100% in favor of the UCE's policies
Child genius Cai Randolph is now 21 and has been in the military since she was sixteen, a member of the "Quandem" project. Quandems are teams of two mentally linked via nanoprobes- an "anchor" female who can hack into computer systems and transmit data to her "recep" man in the field. At this point in time, she and her recep Jake are the only Quandem team left in the military. Jake's been under the impression that Cai is some sort of computer, and she's never bothered to disillusion him (as a child genius and nerd, Cai naturally got brainwashed by her peers to think she's uglier than dogshit- oh yes, I relate)- but now she has to.
Cai's parents disappeared when she was sixteen, after getting pressured by a rich guy about their scientific experiments. Cai has suspected all along that the guy (Marshall Elliot) has kidnapped them, but nobody's believed her. But now she's tracked him down to the Raft Cities, and thinks if she can get there, she can find them. But she needs a reason to go there...so why not engineer a mission to go after the infamous Banzai, now rumored to be in the Raft Cities?
Naturally, Jake takes it a little funny to have it sprung on him that he hasn't been talking to a computer for five years, but he gets over it. Their pairing, and how it works, is very good within the course of the book. And the plot really moves right along once they reach their destination, with interesting twists and "what's really going on here?" and "can I trust them?" moments aplenty. It sizzles. Four and a half stars.