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Monday, October 20, 2014

Cipher by Aileen Erin

Author: Aileen Erin
Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC
Pages: 210
How I read it: ARC ebook
Genre: Dystopian, romance, science fiction
Rating: 4 crowns
Synopsis (from NetGalley): In the not-too-distant future, the color of your helix tattoo shows exactly how your DNA was modified—green for super-smart scientists, black for pumped-up warriors, white for the immortal Seligo—but Cipher’s red helix is a death sentence. It’s a sign of unstable DNA, which is probably the reason she can manipulate electricity. 

When she was eight years old, Cipher made the mistake of showing her uncle the tattoo. In return, he killed her parents and tried to kidnap her. 

She’s been on the run ever since, and twelve long years later, Cipher is tired of hiding. Survival isn’t enough anymore. She wants her life back.

Hacking into the Citadel mainframe is a huge risk, but it pays off when she finds a database on red helixes. Before she can copy it, she loses control of her power, charring her last processor, and the only person in the Arizona Voids that can get her back online is her oldest friend, Knightly. She hasn’t seen him in person since she started running, and Knightly 2.0 is fully upgraded with a six-pack and knee-melting smile.

For a girl like Cipher, trust doesn’t come easily, but Knightly makes her yearn for a life she knows she can’t have, especially when every secret she reveals endangers them both.

My Thoughts:
The first thing I have to say is "wow" about this book. I couldn't put it down pretty much from the moment I picked it up until I finished it. It didn't take long at all to read either. You can definitely tell this is meant to be part of a series and part of what kept it from being 5 crowns is because it's such a typical story arc (and didn't strike any brand new ground for a new twist to the expected "Save the world from the evil corporation running it" trope), but that causes no problems for reading this as a stand-alone book.

Cipher - Ahh, strong, brainy, and a total computer geek. Loved that she was a mega hacker...who had issues with electricity.

Knight - Working for the bad guys as a deep cover agent - great story line and angst when it comes to deciding whether to break his cover or not.

The world building was fantastic. I'm still not very clear how we got from the world as it is to the world as it turns out in the Shadow Ravens series, but that's not particularly crucial to understand. I really got behind the idea of the helixes identifying those who are a step above and in what categories. The double-helixes (like Knight) were a cool idea.

The romance between Cipher/Knight flowed nicely and definitely built on their original relationship as children. The one thing I have to say about that was when Knight was first examining his memories to refresh what he was looking for (he's been looking for Cipher all along), he sees that she should be tall and doesn't get why exactly she's not as tall as the programs projected she would be. The reason this bugs me is they make such a deal about the memories, especially the far-back ones like retrieved about young Cipher, are unlikely to be particularly accurate, yet the author goes out of her way for Cipher to explain she's short based on malnutrition. I failed to see why that mattered when they had an explanation already in place.

But, over all, this is a great book and having never read anything by Ms. Erin before, it was fabulous introduction. I can't wait to read more in the Shadow Ravens series.

Review also posted at Tory Michaels' Time Out.

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