Formats available: paperback, ebook
Series: Hell Squad #3
Published by Anna Hackett on August 10th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org
Hell Squad soldier Gabe Jackson has lost everything that mattered, including his twin brother. Now he just wants to kill the invading aliens anyway he knows how...and he knows a lot of ways. Previously part of a secret Army super-soldier project, he's faster, stronger, deadlier...but on the inside, he's a mass of rage, and pain, and grief-all waiting for a chance to drag him under. Until he finds her. Dr. Emerson Green had her life planned: thrive in the high-stress environment of the ER, build her career, have a great life. Then the raptor alien invasion happened. Now she's the head of the medical team for the secret base sheltering human survivors outside of Sydney. She's also in charge of patching up the soldiers who get too close to raptor claws. She'd never planned for this...and she'd never planned for sexy, brooding Gabe Jackson. As Emerson uncovers clues to the aliens' secret plans for the human race, she and Gabe collide in a storm of volatile passion. But the brooding soldier is as stubborn as he is silent, and Emerson knows she must convince him to reach out to her...because Gabe is a ticking time bomb about to go off.
There be Borg here.
Not exactly, but close enough. In this third entry in Hackett’s awesome post-apocalyptic SFR Hell Squad series, the invading Gizzida reveal that at least part of their purpose in conquering Earth was to “assimilate” the human race by transforming them into the reptilian Gizzida, and Hell Squad has found the transformation tanks to prove it.
Anyone who doesn’t hear echoes of Star Trek when the transformation system is named “Genesys” isn’t paying enough attention. Not that the Trek homage matters to the plot, but I love it when my new SFR loves reference my old SFR loves.
Your warp speed may vary.
The romance in this entry, after series opener Marcus (reviewed here) and Cruz (here) was hinted at during the previous book. Gabe lost his twin brother Zeke in the first book. But he went batshit crazy in the second book when base medico Emerson Green was temporarily captured in their hunt for human prisoners/experimentees/torture victims.
It was pretty obvious at that point that something was going on between the genetically modified warrior and the doc. Even if whatever it was was only in Gabe’s dreams, or Emerson’s nightmares. Or both.
One of the things that has changed since the end of the world as we know it arrived is that casual sex has become the go-to stress reliever for a significant chunk of the population of the secret Blue Mountain base.
One of “Doc” Emerson’s worries is what will happen when everyone’s birth control implants get way past their expiration dates. Whether the last outpost at the end of the human race in the middle of a guerrilla war is or is not the best place to start having a population explosion, Emerson knows its going to happen soon.
Sooner than she thinks, as Cruz’s lover, Santha, becomes the first woman to find herself unexpectedly , but happily, pregnant.
It’s also a personal question for Emerson, as she and Gabe are secretly providing each other with a bulwark against the all-too-frequent nightmares. Just like in the first book, Gabe doesn’t think he’s good enough for Emerson, and doesn’t think a genetically modified warrior like himself is a safe lover for anyone, let alone the well-educated doctor.
A lot of this story is the push-pull between Gabe and Emerson, as they try to work out whether either of them can manage a real relationship. She buries her stress in overwork, and he kills his, over and over, by slaughtering Gizzida. Neither of them is good at talking about their feelings, or sometimes even admitting they have feelings. Or that they can’t stop feeling things about each other, whether it’s a good idea or not.
But while Gabe and Emerson are sorting out their feelings for each other, the Gizzida are laying a trap for both the doctor and the Hell Squad. Their leader thinks that Emerson and the Squad would be perfect additions to their race.
Escape Rating A-: I love this series. It is the perfect blend of romance, action adventure and science fiction worldbuilding. It’s also a great post-apocalyptic series for people who don’t generally like post-apocalyptic stories.
But then I expect no less from this author. Which is why her books are my go-tos when my schedule goes FUBAR as it did this week. It’s not that I didn’t want to read the book I originally scheduled, it’s that I knew I couldn’t tackle 672 pages in one night.
Gabe, on the other hand, was an absolute treat. We get to see more of the workings of Blue Mountain base, and we learn chillingly more about the Gizzida’s motives. Which make complete sense from their perspective, while still giving us humans the shivers.
I like it when my villains make sense. Bwahaha is funny but does not a superior foe make.
I also enjoy the way that the romances are not the driving force of the story, but they are a driving force for the characters. Gabe is going berserker because he isn’t dealing with the loss of his twin, and can’t deal with his feelings for Emerson.
Speaking of not dealing with stress, in one of these books I want to see the base commander finally find someone of his own. He needs to have someone he can rely on, and someone who can relieve his mountain of stress!
Emerson is suffering from PTSD after her capture by the Gizzida, and is unwilling to take the time to deal with it. (Doctors make the WORST patients). Gabe and Emerson help each other forget what’s hurting them, and in the process, help each other remember how good it is to be alive and what they have that is worth fighting for.