Book Review : Velocity Weapon

Book Review : Velocity WeaponVelocity Weapon (The Protectorate, #1) by Megan E. O'Keefe
Published by Orbit on June 11, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 533
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three-half-stars

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O'Keefe.
Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.
However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.
Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

While waiting for the release of the final entry in Megan E. O’Keefe’s other science fiction trilogy, The Devoured Worlds,  I decided it was time to check out some of her works. Velocity Weapon, with its badass female protagonist, galactic empire, political intrigue, plot twists, and moral dilemmas surrounding artificial intelligence did not disappoint. However, it did take me quite a while to actually finish the book. 

 

I was immediately invested in siblings Sanda and Biran Greeve.  I was worried that another of O’Keefe’s female characters might not live up to The Blighted Stars  Naira Sharp, but I needn’t have worried. Sanda, and not her brother, is the tough-as-nails character who is also a renowned gunnery Sergeant. Biran, her younger brother, is more suited for the political role of becoming a Keeper. In Velocity Weapon, keepers are not only the protectors of the people, but of implanted microchips filled with pieces of the hidden knowledge to build a planetary gate, which allows for easy travel among the stars. Should this technology fall into hands outside of the empire, all hell would break loose, especially when enemies are rumored to have new technology to destroy entire planets.

 

“We guard the knowledge of our people through the ages, not their bodies from moment to moment.”

 

In this world, technology seems to have outpaced human empathy. Velocity Weapon spends a lot of time exploring the moral implications of artificial intelligence, which I feel is a topic that is more pertinent than ever before in our own world. For me, the standout relationship of Velocity Weapon was not Sanda’s relationship with her brother or a romantic relationship that blossoms over the course of the novel, but the relationship between Sanda and a being with artificial intelligence. I don’t want to give too much away on that topic, but their relationship and the much larger dilemmas it presents, not just for Sanda, but for their entire universe, is something that has me itching to read the next books in the series.

 

“You do not invite those you do not trust to enter your body, do you? You live in my veins. Can reach into my mind and rearrange things at will. There is… intimacy, in having your mind contained in a place of dwelling.”

 

But this compelling relationship between Sanda and AI doesn’t mean that other relationships between human character in the novel are not interesting. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Sanda and Biran’s personalities, outlooks, and career fields. While Biran has become a Keeper in order to change things from inside the organization, even managing to become a prominent part of their council with very little experience, Sanda is decisively not afraid to fall out of line and to disobey direct commands in order to do what she thinks is right. The choices these siblings make throughout Velocity Weapon as they are incredibly pressured by outside forces far beyond their control are incredibly engrossing. I was never quite sure what either character would do next, which made the stickier situations they found themselves in that much more exciting.

 

“But I’m asking you to trust me.”
“You? Biran, you’re not asking me to trust you. You’re asking me to trust the organization you work for. And I’ve been witness to some deep crevasses in those ranks.”

 

Though there was plenty to be interested in from the very first page, it must be said that I initially started reading Velocity Weapon months ago, when I was supposed to be reading something else. And I’m pretty sure I read at least two or three books in between finishing it. While I think this extended reading time is largely a reflection of me and the craziness of my life more than the actual book’s fault, I do have to admit that the pacing of Velocity Weapon left a little something to be desired. While Velocity Weapon starts with a catastrophic event, it’s followed by a lot of quieter events, with political maneuvering pushed to the forefront. While this pattern of hill and valley pacing allows the characters to develop and to react to their circumstances, I found it a bit frustrating to go from such exciting, high-octane events to long lulls in action.

 

In fact, there are multiple massive twists in Velocity Weapon, but as the characters can’t really do anything about the truth of things (as they now know them), and because these reveals happen pretty frequently, these moments, outside of the first twist, lacked emotional payoff for me. This was especially true since these shocking twists were almost always immediately followed by big lulls in action. Ultimately, this method of storytelling made it pretty hard for me to feel tension or suspense about events because I knew they’d be followed by a long period of inactivity where characters were merely considering their options.

 

The other part of the novel I struggled with was that I didn’t enjoy reading from most of the perspectives outside of that of Biran and Sanda’s. I just didn’t care about a lot of the other characters, except a side character named Callie, who is a reporter dealing with the struggle of being a news anchor with a stutter. I found her immediately compelling and I wished she had had way more page space, but I can’t say the same for another one of the main narrators, a character named Jules. For about 90% of the novel, I was unclear on how exactly Jules and events in which she were embroiled, related to the story at large. This made reading from her perspective frustrating for me. The whole time I kept asking myself—why is she here? Why does this matter? Though Velocity Weapon finally gave me a solid answer, it wasn’t until the end of the novel.

 

I have to admit that after dying to know what the heck was going on with Jules’s storyline the whole book and only finally getting a sudden answer at the end, which actually left me with far more questions, I am now much more interested in her role in the next entry in the series. And of course, I’m super invested to see what happens with Sanda, the AI, and Biran, as well as crossing my fingers for Callie to play a bigger role in future entries in the series. I also loved that author O’Keefe managed to end Velocity Weapon on a satisfying note that definitely wasn’t a cliffhanger, but still left readers with so many compelling mysteries! The author easily finds a balance between giving away just enough information to leave readers gratified, but still eagerly looking for more in the future books.

 

I have already purchased the next book in the trilogy and am excited to see where the author takes the characters in future installments. Velocity Weapon truly has something for everyone and I definitely recommend the novel to fans of O’Keefe’s The Devoured Worlds, those who enjoy science fiction and fantasy as a whole, and for people who enjoy reading about the implications of artificial intelligence.

 

 

three-half-stars
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Book Review

Posted June 17, 2024 in Book Reviews, Science Fiction

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4 responses to “Book Review : Velocity Weapon

  1. I remember loving this when I read it, but it’s been five years so the details are fuzzy. I haven’t continued the series, unfortunately…

    • I can understand that–i can barely remember books I read a year ago. And it’s so hard not to get distracted with other books when reading a series. Maybe this is your sign to give it a reread 😆

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