Richard K. Morgan – Thirteen

Hey, I finally got the time to finish this one and write up a quick review!

Thirteen has been the first book by Richard Morgan I read (Altered Carbon is next on my list), so I’ll have to judge it as the stand-alone work that it is, mostly lacking comparison to his earlier books. Realizing that I’ve been reading many, many fantasy series and nearly no Science Fiction, let alone stand-alone books lately, this was indeed an enjoyable experience.

Future governments have developed subhuman forms to complete specific tasks, which intrigues as well as repells the ordinary human beings. Only one variant though, the Thirteens, are dreaded for their agressiveness and degeneration to their most basic animal instincts. The plan was to use them as genetically manipulated super-soldiers, but this kind of genetical enhancement is dreaded by normal people who consider them as dangerous twists.

When a Thirteen escapes from Mars and starts to go on a brutal killing spree, Carl Marsalis, a freelance Thirteen hitman gunning for the government is hired to track him down.

What sounds like your every-day “genetically enhanced superman story” is more than what is seems at first glance. Sure, Marsalis is pretty much a badass, but as the plot develops he becomes more and more likable in his unlikable ways. The entire book reads like an action thriller, but one that’s spiced with intriguing characters (Sevgi Ertekin as a great female protagonist besides Marsalis).

Overall Thirteen is a book asking rather fundamental questions about humanity and personal rights. Even though some passages about what a Thirteen is and how they are treated by the “ordinary” humans may be a little long and borderline over-done, it is a good thrilling SciFi read raising speculative questions.

It could have been shorter though. To me some parts after the hospital scene were a little forced, though I liked the fact that Morgan made Marsalis show some emotion in this part. It made his character a lot more realistic in an “ordinary human” kind of way that doesn’t just focus on survival instincts and chemically powered fighting techniques.

The end itself is rather open and a little rushed, one of those “everything happens at once” endings when you actually think the plot is finished already.

With all the action and fast-paced plotting I’d like to mention that this book also made me laugh because of scenes like this Seriously, I LOVED the Jesusland references and Scott just made me crack up on various occasions. He’s the perfect example of the blinding powers of faith. Poor guy.

Final verdict: 7.5/10

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