The Rig by Roger Levy – Book Review

That cover! Or rather, this cover, that’s what drew my eye first. A simple 2D design, but utterly captivating. The big bold font, simple colours and the image of some sort of mining rig. But what was it for? And how did it fit into the story? I pored over this purchase for quite a few days before committing, and it was always the cover that drew me back. I’d never heard of Roger Levy before, and because writing takes up pretty much all my free time nowadays, starting a new book has to be worth the investment. Could an author I’d never heard of displace the sure things on the top of the TBR pile? I hate not finishing books. Could this be worthy?

Hell yes!

I needn’t have worried, because once I started reading, I couldn’t get through it quick enough.

Here’s the blurb…

Humanity has spread across many planets, connected by the Song, the information superhighway, and held together by AfterLife. All humans have neurids – organic chips that record your entire life – implanted in their brains at birth, and at the moment of death, one may be lucky enough to discover that your neurid is active. That means you are placed in a sarc and held in suspended animation in the seas of the planet of Bleak, until a cure for your illness has been discovered and you are put up in a public vote. Billions of people from across the system will read your life story, taken from your neurid, and vote on whether you deserve to be cured. Who needs god when moral behaviour is encouraged by social media?

On the planet of Gehenna, the only planet that still worships a god, a hyper-intelligent but socially challenged boy named Alef meets Pellon Hoq, the son of a crime boss whose empire spans the system. Over the course of two decades the friends become the worst of enemies, as Pellon Hoq is driven mad by his own mortality, and Alef seeks to find an answer that will prevent a terrible tragedy.

On the planet of Bleak where the sarcs bob in the endless sea amidst the great rigs that extract the planet’s core, Raisa is working on a story. She is a writer for TruTales, a Song site that sends her all over the system in search of lives to write down. When a lawman she has been interviewing is drawn into a string of murders, Raisa begins to suspect that her AI handler for the site has a plan for her.

At its core, RIG is an SF thriller with two alternating narrative strands that ultimately draw perfectly together. One strand traces the story of two boys bound terribly together, who in time control a vast criminal organisation, while the other explores an apparently insignificant murder that opens into something far greater.

Levy plays a masterstroke in delivering a thoroughly engrossing space opera that avoids any mention of spaceships and instead concentrates on the interplay between powerful families. 

The story unravels in such a way that it maintains a momentum of raising and answering questions about what is going on that keeps you tapping away to find out what happens. Some of these span the entire narrative, whilst others are resolved more quickly only to throw up additional plot points that set up even more intrigue.

It’s the relationships between the characters that drive these questions, with the narrative split between Alef & Pellonhorc, starting on Gehenna and Razer & Bale on Bleak.

They’re both as intriguing as each other, and you’ll be constantly asking yourself how the hell they’re connected as the story progresses.

Levy is a writer after my own heart. Explaining very little. Opening up this new universe to you gradually, allowing you to experience it slowly and savour the world building. The story takes place in some very unique locations, and they feel as alive and realistic as the diverse set of characters who inhabit it.

It’s only failing is the inability to fully pay off the breathless charge through to its denouement. But this is a small sacrifice next to the enjoyment that the story itself brings. 

I highly recommend giving it a whirl, and personally, I can’t wait to check out more of Levy’s work.

Hit Buy, and explore The Rig for yourself…

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