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Mind Storm: A Strykers Syndicate Novel by K.M. Ruiz
Cover Artist: Photo of buildings by Miemo Penttinen / Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Thomas Dunne Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312673178
Date: 10 May 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

In the far future, the Border Wars have decimated Earth's population. Nuclear radiation has mutated some of the surviving humans, transforming them into psions who have paranormal powers such as telekinesis, electrokinesis, pyrokinesis, etc. Enslaved by the World Court, the psions comprise the Strykers Syndicate, which hunt and destroy rogue psions. The World Court plans on transporting a colony of humans with perfect DNA to Mars and leaving the rest of humanity to die. Nathan Serca, patriarch of the wealthy, demented Serca Syndicate, wishes to rule Mars; however, Nathan's estranged son, Lucas, with the help of rogue psions, plots to destroy the plans of both the World Court and his father.

K.M Ruiz's violent, bloody science fiction thriller, Mind Storm, demonstrates that it must be man's inherent nature to fear, hate, and enslave those who are different. Since the beginning of time, race and religion have separated humans; now, after the bombs have been dropped, it is DNA. Humans with clean DNA, free of nuclear contamination, are put on the Registry and allowed to live in protected underground bunkers and sealed towers that reach high into the skies. The rest of humanity must eke out their existence in the contaminated cities and deadzones. Furthermore, each enslaved psion is designated according to his/her paranormal ability and by its class of strength. Classes range from X (the weakest, most human-like) to 0 (the strongest, most rare). For example, Threnody Corwin, of the Stryker's Syndicate, is a Class III electrokinetic. Her coworker/partner, Quinton Martinez, is a Class III pyrokinetic.

Clearly, Nathan Serca is the novel's evil villain; he hates his own children and is using them to live longer. Psions die young because using their paranormal powers drains them of energy and life. Nathan forces his children to use their powers in lieu of having to utilize his own, thus allowing him to live longer. For lack of a clear-cut hero, Nathan's eldest son, Lucas, appears to be the novel's antihero. He, like his father, is clearly cruel and violent. In the beginning, the reader encounters Lucas viciously murdering Bishop Michael Santos inside a cathedral. However, he is intent on saving the psions and the unregistered humans from destruction. Four psions who defected from the Stryker's Syndicate, Threnody Corwin, Quinton Martinez, Kerr MacDougall and Jason Garret, are the only morally redeemable characters. All the others appear morally reprehensible, corrupt, traitorous and self-serving. These four psions, however, grow to respect and care for each other as a team.

Mind Storm fried my brain on numerous occasions; sometimes I felt as though I was reading a computer or physics textbook. It wasn't light reading for me. I had to concentrate hard on some of the action scenes in order to completely comprehend and enjoy what was transpiring. There was a considerable amount of mind melding, tearing down protective mental shields, tearing holes in one's brain, and other feats that one might consider magick such as that found in a Harry Potter novel. However, instead of wands, mutated brain cells are used as tools of destruction. Furthermore, Mind Storm is great science fiction for computer geeks because of the extensive usage of computers and the need to jack-in, uplink, upload, and download. There are also innumerable, advanced technological devices such as firmware, bioware, hologrids, and vidscreens.

K.M. Ruiz's Mind Storm is a compelling, haunting vision of a futuristic nightmare that no one in his/her right mind would want to endure. It is a future inhabited mostly by tortured humans driven to the brink of insanity by their desperation to escape. Bonds and alliances are formed and broken as characters struggle for survival. The registered and the unregistered and the human and the psion are thrown together in this dark, gloomy soap opera-like novel that will appeal to all fans of apocalyptic science fiction horror. Many of the psions, especially those in the Serca Syndicate, have a total disregard for human life; the terrifyingly gory punishments they inflict upon humans will appeal to many horror fans. As for myself, I will be teleporting to the local bookstore when the sequel is released. I am dying to learn if anyone escapes Earth alive.

Readers who enjoy Mind Storm may want to read Whitley Strieber's recently released Hybrids. A fine example of apocalyptic horror, this novel focuses on human and alien gene splicing. The reptilian-like hybrids that were created in the lab are thought to be destroyed but are later found to be alive and multiplying in Northern California. They threaten to literally skin alive the residents of San Francisco as part of their ghastly plan for world domination.

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