Review of MIND STORM by K. M. Ruiz
A STRYKERS SYNDICATE NOVEL
Thomas Dunne, May 2011
In the 24th century, Earth remains shattered from the "border wars" of the 22nd century. Those humans whose genetics are ruled to be pure survive in urban towers while mutants and scavengers do the best they can outside of the towers where radioactivity still remains and where lives tend to be brutal and short. Human leadership plans escape to the terraformed planet, Mars. Half the attraction is that they can leave the psychically powered mutants behind. The mutants they hope to leave behind include the rogue Warhounds and the Stryker Syndicate--the majority of mutants who have fought endlessly to preserve human rule despite horrible losses. What neither Warhound nor Stryker know is that there is a third force--Lucas, the powerful son of the Warhound leader, hopes to build an Earth where mutants can live their lives without fear of instant death.
Lucas's high-level mutant powers, plus prophesies from a 22nd century girl, allow him to stay ahead of the Warhounds and Strykers, both of which wish him dead, but his goal isn't survival and turning Earth back into a place where living is possible will take allies. Kidnapping a small group of Strykers sent to kill him is a start. Still, it's hard to keep allies when you care only about the outcome and are happy to sacrifice as many of your followers as it takes to get there.
Author K. M. Ruiz maintains a high level of action as mutants use teleportation, telekinesis, mental control over electricity and fire, as well as direct mind-to-mind contact. Family dynamics also play a role as Lucas's siblings, hoping to replace him as favored child and heir, do their best to hunt him down, but also share his hatred of their father. As for the human-controlled Strykers, their role is the most complex. Denied the training to maximize their powers, used and then discarded by human masters who feel nothing but contempt for them, and destined to be executed when the pure humans escape, their leadership tries to keep them alive while hoping to move the world toward a better outcome.
Throughout MIND STORM, I found myself envisioning the mutants wearing tights with 'X' printed across their chests. The whole mutant vs. human story line lacks originality and Ruiz didn't manage to elevate the magical powers and super-human exploits beyond the comic book level. I also kept anticipating a more clear integration of the 24th century adventure with the flashbacks to 22nd century prophet Aisling--which Ruiz did not deliver. Perhaps this will be more fully developed in later novels in the series. On the other hand, Lucas, with his third force, and the moral ambiguity of all of the sides did give MIND STORM a bit of complexity--it's not just heroes and villains if everyone is a villain.
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