“Rogue Empire” is a straight-out action thriller and a part of the Blake Carver series written by William Tyree. The audiobook edition is narrated by Paul Christy. If you are someone who likes rather complex stories involving intrigue, kidnapping, and spies, and counter-terrorism, this book has all of those for you. On the other hand, if you like books that have a good amount of action, suspense, along with some romance, Rogue Empire also is a good book for you. Because the story is rather complex and moves quickly from scene to scene, you will want to listen closely to this one, try not to listen while heavily distracted. Although thriller books are not one of my favorite genres, I did enjoy this book apart from the many issues with the audio quality; discussed later in this review. If any of the above sounds interesting, I would recommend you pick up Rogue Empire and give it a read over the audiobook edition.
What happens when pressure between two already on edge superpowers begins to spiral out of control because of a mis-targeted drone strike which goes awry? Was the botched missile strike simply a technical issue? Was it done on purpose for some other clandestine purpose? Was it due to rogue code injected by someone or something else? All of this happens in the opening chapters of this book. As things progress, both countries come close to declaring all-out war against one another instead of working together to resolve their differences. I am a person who works with technology every day, and overall, I thought the author did a decent job of researching and making sure what was created in the book was plausible. There were only a few instances where I felt I had to suspend belief; but, that was not an issue for me knowing this is a piece of fiction. I thought the premise was well developed and the book progressed in a way that seemed un-rushed. In some ways, I felt the book was slower than expected, but this was often to permit better story or character development. The tension continued to build throughout the first half of the book with most of the resolve coming near the end.
I found that I liked the main characters along with their backstory details. I also found that I detested the villains in this book, but I think this was the author’s intention. For me, the book felt like the television series 24, but on steroids. I like that one of the characters had a disorder called total recall (not the movie) which was more like having a photographic memory. This disability is used sparingly, so the character is not like one of the X-Men or other superheroes. However, this power does assist him at getting out of a few situations as the story unfolds. Not only are we dropped into exquisite world locations, but you are also introduced to some quite interesting and unique technology. And, where there is technology you seem to always have hackers and malicious just around the corner. For me, having a female U.S. President was a bit of a twist in the book and a nice surprise.
I’m not sure I would recommend this book for younger readers as there are times a fair amount of vulgar language is used. Often such language is in small bursts and usually confined to one or two characters. In some ways, it was not used as frequently as I would have suspected, however it was present and seemed to get worse as the book got closer to its end. As expected, there are also a few scenes that may not be appropriate for younger readers due to graphic violence or subject matter.
So, let me move to the area that I had the most difficulty with this book; its audio quality along with some slight narration issues. Paul Christy has a fair number of audiobook narrations under his name, so I was surprised to find the issues I did with this book. There are numerous places where you can clearly hear the audio has been patched or edited. I’m not sure if the book was being written at the same time it was narrated and edits needed to be injected after the fact. But, there were enough instances that I lost count and these often distracted me enough that it pulled me out of the story for brief moments. Two examples are around the 1:20 and 1:54 minute marks. There were also a few places where volume inconsistency was observed along with a few mispronounced technology phrases, such as URL spoken as ‘eral’ and not the letters themselves. If you are one who is a purist when it comes to your audiobook quality, I would steer clear of this one and pick up the book instead. If you are one who can get past a few bumps along the way, the book is still worth it even having a few blemishes.
In summary, if you like thrillers or enjoy books involving political conspiracies and counter-terrorism, I suggest you pick up this book and give it a listen. That is if you can get over the many audio recording distractions and some of the language found in this book.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.