I love post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. One of my absolute favorite series is Kit Rocha’s Beyond series. (The first one, Beyond Shame, is available for free on Amazon) I recommend it to people often, and generally describe it as fucking to save the world. And it is that, and there is a whooooole lot of fucking. But it is so much more than that. The series is subversive, funny, sad, intense, dark, light-filled, and a helluva good story. The ladies who make up Kit Rocha have done a fantastic job with worldbuilding, creating something that is gritty and realistic without being over the top or so dark and dirty that you don’t want to experience the world. It feels very real, and the characters in it become friends and family. In fact, Jas, from the first book, is one of my 3 core book boyfriends.
Anyway, when I heard that there was a new series in the works, the Mercenary Librarians (best series title ever, right?) I was all like sign me up! I knew that it wouldn’t be in the Sectors like te Beyond books or the spinoff Gideon’s Riders books, but it would take place in the same world, just a different location. So, I started counting down the days until Deal With the Devil came out, and I was not disappointed one little bit, not that I expected to be.
So, for those who are unfamiliar with the world in general, it takes place in the middle of the 21st century. The world has basically fallen into complete hell. There were Energy Wars, and all manner of unrest. Then, finally, about 40 years before the books take place, there were massive solar flares that did huge amounts of damage. Now, the world is very local. People don’t do a lot of traveling, instead they live in safe-ish towns and cities, and the empty spaces in between are the homes of raiders and who knows what else. It’s very much a case of safety in numbers, and also very much might makes right. Those in power can be ruthless, corrupt, crooked, and do some terrible things. This series takes place in Atlanta and at the moment, there is very little crossover with the Sectors, which are in the west. Atlanta is ruled by the TechCorps HQ and their Protectorate. And of course, they are pretty absolute about their rules, and Atlanta is pretty much a company town.
In this setting, we have Nina and her partners, Maya and Dani. They are a team and each has her own specialty. They are all modified and trained so that they can be the very best they can at their specialty, and they are that. Nina is an information broker. If you want information on something or you need something moved or found, Nina is your goto lady. She will get what you need and get it to where you need. And heaven help anyone who gets in her way. If they are lucky, she will only hurt them, a lot. If they aren’t, she will kill them, and do it quick. The 3 ladies are the cornerstone of their neighborhood. They help take care of people, including doing things like printing out books for people to read, digitizing books that they can find so that they can print them out for people, providing freeze-drying services so that people can store the food that they grow, instead of having to buy from the company store. (And yes, I have Tennesse Ernie Ford and 16 Tons running through my head while I’m writing about the company store) All the ladies ask is for a percentage of the food or a fee to cover the paper costs. Nina, Maya, and Dani are also working on renovating their basement so that there is a warm, safe place for winter for the people who don’t have one. They aren’t really idealists, but they are very much leaders, especially Nina.
Then we have the Silver Devils, Knox, Rafe, Connall, and Gray. The Silver Devils were the best team that the Protectorate had to offer. Then Knox started going off the rails. He made decisions that didn’t quite match the goals of his superiors. So, they locked the men up in see-through cells, and let Mason, their medic die. You see, these guys all have bio-engineered implants that make them stronger, smarter, whatever. But the implants need periodic adjustment, otherwise they start to fail, and when the implants fail, the person gets sick and eventually dies. That’s what happened to Mason. It’s not a quick process, and it could be called torture. That experience made the Silver Devils leave. But they are now in trouble because their biohacker has been kidnapped and their implants are all starting to fail. The kidnapper has told them what the ransom is. It’s Nina. The Silver Devils are to bring Nina to a certain location, and they will be able to get their biohacker back. Now all they have to do is to come up with a hook with which to catch Nina. And what do you bait a hook meant to catch an information broker with? A lost library.
So, Nina is pretty awesome. She’s everything I expect from a Kit Rocha heroine. She’s ballsy, strong, vulnerable, loyal, loving, and a leader. I like her better than I like Knox. It’ not that I don’t like him, it’s just that I identify with her more. There’s just something about her that is really powerful. I’m not going to say that she’s like Lex, or Six, or Jyoti or any of the O’Kane women, (I just chose those 3 because of their positions in the Beyond series), that would be a disservice to all of them. What I will say is that all the women are cut from the same cloth or at least the same kind of cloth. I’m pretty sure that there would be a lot of respect in between Lex and Nina. In fact, I really hope in some future book that they manage to get together. That would be totally epic.
We don’t get to learn as much about Maya and Dani as we do Nina, because she is the focus of this book. But, we do get in their heads a little bit. I really like how Kit Rocha doesn’t always just give us POV chapters of the main characters. That lets us meet the supporting cast and become friends with them before we get their book. I think that Dani is really going to be fun. And probably murdery. But fun.
So, let’s talk about Knox. He is not a bad man. He has done some bad things. There’s a difference. He is a desperate man. I also think that he’s afraid. Things are way out of his control, and he doesn’t know what he can do, and his team is starting to fall apart, including him, and the stress isn’t making things better. It will be interesting in later books to see if there is a difference between Knox in this book and him in those books. I like him. I like how he is willing to go to extremes to make sure that his men are going to be OK. I don’t necessarily agree with the extremes he’s willing to go to, but I respect the actions. He does have a journey to go through in this book, and it’s one that really opens his eyes.
Now that I’ve read DWTD, I’m now counting down the days until the next one. And when I binge read the Sectors again, and it will happen soon, since it always is coming soon, DWTD will go right after.
OK, that’s all I have to say today. You should definitely go check this one out! Happy reading!