Pub Day Repost: The Operator by Kim Harrison

The OperatorThe Operator

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles, #2
ARC, 468 pg.
Pocket Book, 2016
Read: October 17 – 20, 2016

I loved Peri Reed’s debut in The Drafter last year — it was one of my 10 favorites of 2015, so to say I was eager to read this is somewhat of an understatement. Sure, I was a little apprehensive, too — could Harrison pull it off again? Thankfully, yes she could. You may be able to jump in to the series with this point, but I really wouldn’t recommend it at all. Go read The Drafter.

The Operator picks up with Peri in a much better place (mentally, at least) than we left her in — she’s living out of the business, she runs a coffee shop that’s marketed towards the elite of Detroit — the moneyed, those wanting the most secure networks while sipping their morning caffeine fix, and those willing to spend an exorbitant amount on coffee.

She’s working really hard to convince herself that this is the life she wants when her past catches up with her. And before she knows it, she’s got the remnants of Opti trying to bring her back in — and the government’s version of a “clean” Opti doing their best to recruit her (and honestly, they’re taking more of a “stick” approach than a “carrot” approach).

Faces from her past — those she trusts, but not enough; those she trusts, but doesn’t want to; and those she’ll never trust — compete (on both sides) with people she doesn’t know and doesn’t trust. And, as always, Peri doesn’t even know if she can trust herself — but she’s very clear on what she wants: out. Out of the life, out of the spy business, out of everything that defines her. To get there, she’s going to have to rely on everything that she’s trying to get away from, but that’s a price she’s willing to pay. It may be Quixotic, but it’s all she’s got (other than her cat).

It is difficult to talk about the plot without giving too much away, so that’s as specific as I can get.

If there was a problem with The Drafter was that it was sometimes as confusing for the reader as it was for Peri to know what was going on (I’m not saying, it was poorly written — but as things were filtered through Peri’s perception, which were pretty in flux . . .). In The Operator, we don’t have that problem — Peri’s sometimes not sure what she’s doing, or that she’s doing it for the reasons she thinks that she is — but she’s very clear about what’s going on. Actually, sometimes, I think she’s the only one who sees the whole board and understands what’s going on. Which makes everything much easier for the reader to follow.

She had a clear objective, clear obstacles to overcome, and the gumption and skills to get the jobs done. The only question is: can she accomplish all she’s set out to accomplish before she’s killed or has her mind wiped?

Characters — again, this is tough. I’d like to say X at first seemed like a good antagonist — if not enemy — but then Y happens and X does Z and reveals that they can be a trusted ally and possible friend. But if I’m going to do that, I might as well reveal half the plot. There are some great new character, I’ll say instead, and every one that Peri ends the book trusting/befriending, I’d like to spend a lot more time with. A couple of decent new enemies/antagonists — I think we get enough of them. The people who survived The Drafter and made it to these pages, we learn more about them and pretty much cement our appraisals of from last time out. As always, Harrison gets almost every character note right, I think I’d have an easier time noting where she fumbles on that front.

If for whatever (very wrong) reason you ignore the story, this book is worth reading just for on a tiny little details that Harrison has filled this with to make a slightly futuristic future in this world. You can recognize it as our world, but it’s future-enough to be a totally new world so you don’t recognize everything. I’m not sure those sentences make sense, but you probably get my gist. I could do a post just on the future tech, culture, economics, etc. I’m not going to do that — just not enough time on my hands — but I could, because the world Harrison has surrounded Peri with is just that developed and detailed. And almost none of the details like that have any bearing on the plot beyond grounding the characters. I love that.

This may not be as well executed as its predecessor, but Harrison spent so much of The Drafter setting up the world while telling the story — where this time, she just gets to play in the world and tell the story. I think I enjoyed this one more, while I didn’t admire it as much. I have a few ideas what Peri and the rest will be up to in The Agent, but I’m more than prepared for Harrison to do something better than those. All I know for sure is that it’s too long before it’s released. The Operator is a slick, sleek, SF adventure novel that’s sure to satisfy on several levels.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Pocket Books, and I thank them very much.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

The Operator by Kim Harrison

The OperatorThe Operator

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles, #2

ARC, 468 pg.
Pocket Book, 2016

Read: October 17 – 20, 2016


I loved Peri Reed’s debut in The Drafter last year — it was one of my 10 favorites of 2015, so to say I was eager to read this is somewhat of an understatement. Sure, I was a little apprehensive, too — could Harrison pull it off again? Thankfully, yes she could. You may be able to jump in to the series with this point, but I really wouldn’t recommend it at all. Go read The Drafter.

The Operator picks up with Peri in a much better place (mentally, at least) than we left her in — she’s living out of the business, she runs a coffee shop that’s marketed towards the elite of Detroit — the moneyed, those wanting the most secure networks while sipping their morning caffeine fix, and those willing to spend an exorbitant amount on coffee.

She’s working really hard to convince herself that this is the life she wants when her past catches up with her. And before she knows it, she’s got the remnants of Opti trying to bring her back in — and the government’s version of a “clean” Opti doing their best to recruit her (and honestly, they’re taking more of a “stick” approach than a “carrot” approach).

Faces from her past — those she trusts, but not enough; those she trusts, but doesn’t want to; and those she’ll never trust — compete (on both sides) with people she doesn’t know and doesn’t trust. And, as always, Peri doesn’t even know if she can trust herself — but she’s very clear on what she wants: out. Out of the life, out of the spy business, out of everything that defines her. To get there, she’s going to have to rely on everything that she’s trying to get away from, but that’s a price she’s willing to pay. It may be Quixotic, but it’s all she’s got (other than her cat).

It is difficult to talk about the plot without giving too much away, so that’s as specific as I can get.

If there was a problem with The Drafter was that it was sometimes as confusing for the reader as it was for Peri to know what was going on (I’m not saying, it was poorly written — but as things were filtered through Peri’s perception, which were pretty in flux . . .). In The Operator, we don’t have that problem — Peri’s sometimes not sure what she’s doing, or that she’s doing it for the reasons she thinks that she is — but she’s very clear about what’s going on. Actually, sometimes, I think she’s the only one who sees the whole board and understands what’s going on. Which makes everything much easier for the reader to follow.

She had a clear objective, clear obstacles to overcome, and the gumption and skills to get the jobs done. The only question is: can she accomplish all she’s set out to accomplish before she’s killed or has her mind wiped?

Characters — again, this is tough. I’d like to say X at first seemed like a good antagonist — if not enemy — but then Y happens and X does Z and reveals that they can be a trusted ally and possible friend. But if I’m going to do that, I might as well reveal half the plot. There are some great new character, I’ll say instead, and every one that Peri ends the book trusting/befriending, I’d like to spend a lot more time with. A couple of decent new enemies/antagonists — I think we get enough of them. The people who survived The Drafter and made it to these pages, we learn more about them and pretty much cement our appraisals of from last time out. As always, Harrison gets almost every character note right, I think I’d have an easier time noting where she fumbles on that front.

If for whatever (very wrong) reason you ignore the story, this book is worth reading just for on a tiny little details that Harrison has filled this with to make a slightly futuristic future in this world. You can recognize it as our world, but it’s future-enough to be a totally new world so you don’t recognize everything. I’m not sure those sentences make sense, but you probably get my gist. I could do a post just on the future tech, culture, economics, etc. I’m not going to do that — just not enough time on my hands — but I could, because the world Harrison has surrounded Peri with is just that developed and detailed. And almost none of the details like that have any bearing on the plot beyond grounding the characters. I love that.

This may not be as well executed as its predecessor, but Harrison spent so much of The Drafter setting up the world while telling the story — where this time, she just gets to play in the world and tell the story. I think I enjoyed this one more, while I didn’t admire it as much. I have a few ideas what Peri and the rest will be up to in The Agent, but I’m more than prepared for Harrison to do something better than those. All I know for sure is that it’s too long before it’s released. The Operator is a slick, sleek, SF adventure novel that’s sure to satisfy on several levels.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Pocket Books, and I thank them very much.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

Coming Attractions: The Operator by Kim Harrison

The OperatorThe Operator

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles, #2

All this week, I’ve been planning on posting my thoughts about Kim Harrison’s The Operator, the sequel to The Drafter, right now. But as I sat down to write it, I realized I was just too tired. Sure, I could get something finished, but it wouldn’t be good enough. This is a book that deserves something good.

I loved The Drafter — I’ve been saying for a year now that it’s the best thing she’s written. In many ways, I enjoyed this book more — but I’m not sure it’s as well-executed (still thinking about it). Anyway, I wanted to say a little something about it — The Operator comes out just before Thanksgiving, order it now so you have something to do while your family watches football.

Waylaid by Kim Harrison

WaylaidWaylaid

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles/The Hollows

Kindle Single, 87 pg.
Pocket Star, 2016

Read: April 5, 2016


In her Foreword, Harrison says, “Waylaid still reads like self-made fan fiction to me, ” thereby denying book bloggers and other amateur reviewers the opportunity to use that label. Which is a shame, because that’d be a great way to sum it up. Thankfully, it saves us all from making the same joke.

In a move as classic as Uncle Jesse visiting Los Angeles to say “howdy” to Enos*, Harrison brings much beloved Rachel Morgan into the new, awesome, and in much need of publicity world of Peri Reed. Set sometime after the main events of The Witch with No Name (but not necessarily the last chapter), and before The Drafter, Waylaid will serve as a great introduction for fans of Morgan’s series.

A drunken mishap, inspired by a silly Urban Fantasy TV show (that I’d totally watch), results in Jack summoning Rachel in to Peri’s apartment. Jack and Peri assume she’s a counter-agent who’d been waiting for them to return to attack. Rachel has no clue who they are other than nitwits who summoned her away from a date and started attacking her. It doesn’t take her long to realize that her magic doesn’t work, and wherever she is, it’s a world she doesn’t recognize — Detroit still exists, people have technology she can only dream about, and the ley lines are deader than Arizona back home. The clock’s ticking and Peri and Rachel have to team up to get Rachel back home.

It’s silly, it’s fun — it’s pretty faithful to both series, it hopefully helps boost sales of The Drafter and its sequel.

I don’t really a lot to say without getting pretty heavy into spoilers, but I thought it was worth the pittance I spent on it, probably a little more. Fans of Harrison should give it a shot.

* I just revealed my age there, I know. I also know there are older examples, but that’s the first in my memory.

—–

3 Stars

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison

The Witch with No NameThe Witch with No Name

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows, #13

Mass Market Paperback, 510 pg.
Harper Voyager, 2015
Read: December 29 – 31, 2015

Back in 2006, I was just discovering this genre called “Urban Fantasy” that had wizards, vampires, lycanthropes running around contemporary (if not slightly future) cities, and grabbed Dead Witch Walking for what would end up being the 2nd UF series I got into. Over the years and the 12 ensuing novels (plus graphic novels, short stories, etc.) — as I’ve mentioned before — I’ve walked away once, and thought about walking away a few times before and after that, but now we’re here once more, with feeling (all of them, for some readers) to say goodbye and see just what happens with our old friends. At this point I can say that I’m glad I stuck with it — when she wants to Harrison can write some pretty tight scenes with a hero you want to root for, even as she self-sabotages her way through her latest escapade. And I’ll read Jenks anytime. But man…it was time to say good-bye.

While building on the events of the last few novels, Harrison almost seemed to be walking back some of what Rachel had accomplished. Yes, X happened, but here’s a loophole, so that it doesn’t matter, the bad guys can get at our friends this way. Ivy’s endangered by the master vamps, Ellasbeth is making another play for Trent/the girls, Jenks’ church is in trouble, and magic as we know it may be ending. Oh, and it’s all Rachel’s fault (at least it seems that way to those looking in). Rachel at once refuses to roll over and let all the bad things happen, yet she’s convinced that most of them are inevitable and it’s probably for the best if she’s out of the lives of those she cares about. The plan she concocts to save the day is outlandish (even by her standards), and how things end up after her plan is shown to be as useless as wet tissue paper.

I really was surprised with a lot of the choices that Harrison made at the end — this is definitively the end of the series, and nothing will be the same in this world after the events of this novel — it’s as big as The Turn. Yet she didn’t burn down the world or go for a melodramatic slaughter of the main characters. In fact, there was a real “Everybody lives, Rose” quality to this novel (not entirely accurate, but it was the general vibe). I think that cheapened it — even though everyone on my short list of “They’d better make it” did end up safe, it felt unsatisfying.Harrison has been preparing us for the death of one character for quite some time, and somehow even they make it — and it turns out there’s a ridiculously easy way to get around what we’ve been prepared for. That bothered me quite a bit — why spend several novels preparing us for the inevitable only to decide at the end that it’s pretty evitable after all.

I enjoyed the final chapter, a happy ending coda of sorts, although I’m not sure it was that necessary. I think we could’ve been left without it, just knowing and trusting that things would be different in the future, but that those who survived would make their way. Set in the future, we got a glimpse of what’s going on with our principals before bidding them adieu, like (but not like) what Rowling did with that wizard series, but a little more involved.

It was good enough, I guess to justify the time — I enjoyed bits of it, and have to admire the way that Harrison shook up everything at the end. But on the whole, this left me cold and wanting more. Still, glad I persevered through the series and got to spend a little more time with these people.

—–

3.5 Stars

The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The DrafterThe Drafter

by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles, #1
Hardcover, 422 pg.

Gallery Books, 2015

Read: September 17 – 21, 2015

Okay, I haven’t read the second or third Madison Avery book, and I haven’t found the time to read the last Rachel Morgan book (don’t ask, I can’t explain it either), so I might have to revise this a bit later — but I’m betting I won’t — this is the best book Kim Harrison has written to date. Hands down.

So Peri Reed is a Drafter. A covert agent for the U. S. Government in the near future (future enough that there’s all sorts of gear and tech that we have to imagine, near enough that we can relate). She (and 1 in 100,000 or so others) have this handy ability, when things go wrong, she can rewind time a bit and try it again. This is especially handy when mortally wounded. The downside? Doing that erases part of her memory — weeks’ or even months’ worth of it at a time. So each Drafter works with an Anchor. An expert in the Drafter’s personal history to help them put the pieces back together in a manner the Drafter can understand and move forward from.

Things are going well enough, when in the midst of her normal duties Peri finds some evidence that she’s been doing things she shouldn’t be, that she’s a renegade, a corrupt agent. This doesn’t sit easy with her, so she starts to investigate what’s really going on — and as long as she can remember what she’s doing and why, what she finds may shake up more than just her life.

It is almost impossible to track the plotlines of this book — you can experience it, but retell it? No — not without copious notes. One fellow blogger is demanding diagrams just to keep track of everything. And he’s not wrong. Peri keeps getting her memory re-written — memories that the reader is aware of, and others. There’s a mare’s nest of factions, agents, double agents, and possible triple agents; crosses, double crosses, triple and — I lost count of how many crosses a couple of characters were involved in. Plus time resetting itself. Mix in years of backstory that Harrison doles out in drips and drops. The result is that the reader is as disoriented as Peri — when she’s tripped up, we generally are. When she’s surprised by X doing something, we’re not sure what’s going on in X’s mind, either.

It’s hard to render an opinion on most of the characters. Because what we think we know about them may be Peri’s perception, may be reality, may be a cover, or . . . you get the idea? Peri at one point assures one woman that she remembers she likes her — doesn’t know anything about her, but remembers emotions. Which is pretty much all we have to go with as well. There’s a couple of people I know I like — a couple I know I don’t (even if some of them are supposed to be “good” guys) — but as far as how well drawn the characters are, it’s tough to say. Even Peri’s such a work in progress, it’s hard to get a good handle on her as a character.

Nevertheless, this is a book I highly recommend. It starts slow — very slow (I seem to be saying that a lot lately, I’m not sure when I became so impatient), but once all the dominoes are set (somewhere around the 100 page mark), Harrison starts the falling, and wow. It’ll suck you in, it’ll get you wrapped up in the web of deceit and efforts to unravel the deceit. More than anything, it’ll leave you wanting more.

—–

5 Stars

The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12)The Undead Pool

by Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows, #12
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pg.
Harper Voyager, 2014
Read: July 30 – 31, 2014

Whaddyaknow? I can like a Hollows book unreservedly and without a list of complaints. I’d forgotten what that felt like.

If you’d told me that Rachel Morgan’s penultimate adventure would kick off on a golf course, I’d have told you that you were nuts. But if anyone can start trouble on a golf course, it’d be Rachel. In an interesting change of pace, the trouble that ensues really has almost nothing to do with her — sure, an exploding golf ball that practically creates a sand hazard on the course sounds like something she’s responsible — but not this time. Spells and charms are going wrong (mostly in a super-sized fashion) throughout Cincinnati and the Hollows — causing injuries, inconveniences and deaths.

But wait, there’s more — something’s going on in town that’s keeping the Master Vampires asleep, and they’re not waking to feed and exert influence over their clans. Which is great if that’s something you were working towards, and were prepared — like Ivy was awhile back. But these vampires aren’t ready for that level of freedom and self-determination yet. Which means that you’ve got unstable vampires roaming the streets. Which can’t be good for anyone.

This would be enough to keep any Urban Fantasy hero busy — but females in this genre have to have something going on in their personal/romantic life, too (male UF heroes frequently have that it, too — but it doesn’t see as de reguerre). So looking to that front, Ellasbeth, Trent’s fiancé returns; so naturally, Trent and Rachel go on a date the night before she arrives (their first and last). Everyone’s favorite demons, Al and Newt, are not at all happy about how close Rachel is getting to the elf. A couple of elven religious leaders come to town to help with the malfunctioning magic — and they like Trent hanging out with the day-walking demon even less than Al and Newt do. And there’s this really familiar-looking blond vampire that Rachel keeps seeing — but that can’t be right, can it?.

Yeah, that’s enough to keep Rachel, Ivy and Jenks busy.

Here’s the best part: It’s like Harrison asked herself, “How do I make ol’ H. C. happy?” and then things actually happen in the book. Resolution is reached on a lot of these plots that have been ongoing for several novels (even all, or almost all, of the series). Even things I’d forgotten about get tied up. I’m not saying I’m happy because I like all the choices that the characters/Harrison made, because I’m not. But instead of another 400+ pages of Rachel (or Trent or Ivy or . . .) hemming and hawing and then not really reaching a decision on anything, these characters think about their problems, discuss solutions in a constructive manner with each other, and then act on it. They don’t all lead to a happily ever after — but they lead to something. Finally.

Harrison’s clearly setting the table for the last book in the series and tying up what she can — as well as delivering a pretty cool story. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to just focus on the soap-y ongoing story arcs. The stuff with the vampires and the out of control magic was great, and would’ve been enough to make this a compelling read. But the ongoing arcs have been such a drag on this series for so long, the fact that they weren’t at all this time is leading me to focus on them.

I really don’t know how to comment on the master vampire problem or the magic problem without getting into story details — but the implications of both were fascinating, and are the kind of thing that separates the Hollows from most Urban Fantasy. I’m so glad we got these situations.

For the first time in a long time, I can say I’m looking forward to seeing what Harrison does next. I have a lot more hope for her sticking the landing than I’ve had (even as I dread the fates of a couple of characters).

—–

4 Stars