The Awakening, Book One in the BINARY dystopian cyberpunk series

Fiction - Dystopia
420 Pages
Reviewed on 06/25/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Parul Sood for Readers' Favorite

In Menticide: The Awakening, Richard M. Evans crafts a viscerally charged narrative set in the neon-lit dystopia of New Babylon. This inaugural entry in the BINARY series intertwines the frenetic energy of cyberpunk aesthetics with a deep examination of technological and corporate hegemony. Cassandra—a corporation programmer turned reluctant rebel—journeys from the sterile corridors of ZenithCorp to the chaotic streets dominated by cyber gangs. Menticide delves into the dark underbelly of technological advancement and its ramifications on individual freedom. The looming cyber apocalypse, driven by the Four Horsemen’s machinations, serves as a stark allegory for contemporary anxieties about corporate overreach and digital surveillance.

Richard M. Evans’ portrayal of New Babylon in Menticide is a masterclass in world-building. The metropolis, with its stark divide between corporate control and an anarchic underworld, echoes the genre’s forebears while imbuing the setting with fresh urgency. The narrative pace is relentless, propelled by the rush of street races and the ever-present threat of ZenithCorp’s reach. Yet, moments of introspection, particularly Cassandra’s fraught interactions with her father, offer necessary reprieves, both thrilling and poignant, that enrich the story’s emotional texture. Evans impressively balances action with a nuanced critique of power dynamics, making for a narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is exhilarating. His prose is both crisp and evocative, capturing the haunting desolation of a society on the brink of collapse. His characters, particularly Cassandra and the enigmatic Jinx, leader of the Neon Reapers, are vividly rendered, their arcs reflective of the broader themes of resistance and identity. Menticide: The Awakening is a welcoming addition to the cyberpunk canon, offering a narrative rich in action, depth, and resonance.

Jamie Michele

Menticide: The Awakening by Richard M. Evans unfolds in the futuristic landscape of New Babylon, dominated by corporate giant ZenithCorp. Beneath the façade of progress lies a sinister reality, where cyber gangs rebel against corporate control through illegal street races. The emergence of the Four Horsemen of the Cyber Apocalypse blurs the lines between the physical and digital realms, casting a pervasive shadow over the city. Cassandra, a ZenithCorp employee, stumbles upon rumors of a mind control plot within the company and embarks on a dangerous quest for truth. Her journey leads her to Paradise, an underground sanctuary for rebels, where she unveils Project: Menticide's chilling nature. With allies by her side, Cassandra prepares to confront ZenithCorp, knowing their battle has just begun.

“The Binary Outlaws? I like it and it sounds like a good name for a crew of databreakers...” Menticide: The Awakening by Richard M. Evans leans into classic cyberpunk themes of corporate dominance with ZenithCorp's unchecked power, manipulation of laws, and suppression of dissent in a fantastic premise. Evans's world-building is meticulously crafted, presenting New Babylon without law and order, teeming with both technological marvels and societal decay. The neon-lit streets, cybernetic enhancements, and towering skyscrapers make it feel alive and immersive. I loved the evolution of Cassandra and how depending on which side is describing her, she becomes a terrorist or a freedom fighter. There is a shift in her persona that I did not expect or see coming at all, and Evans is great at taking readers on an adventure that never seems to fail in the element of surprise. Overall, this is an excellent entry into a new series and I'm excited to see where it goes next.

Asher Syed

Menticide: The Awakening, the first book in the cyberpunk series Binary by Richard M. Evans revolves around the intelligent and beautiful ZenithCorp tech programmer Cassandra Alicia Turner, who discovers an initiative to technologically brainwash the disenfranchised of New Babylon. After snatching a computer drive with key evidence, she flees from ZenithCorp in the hunt for the only group who might be able to stop them, and the coming cyber apocalypse. That group is underground in Paradise, and they are the resistance. Cassandra needs to stay alive to find resistance leader Jinx and convince them that the information she has is genuine and to orchestrate the removal of her former employer. Street racing is the ticket and the greatest race of all, called the Neon Rush, is the best and most public way to do it. But first, Cassandra must qualify.

Menticide by Richard M. Evans immediately kicks off the suspense and danger of Cassandra's high-stakes mission against ZenithCorp's plan. The primary settings are described in cinematic detail and are a futuristic upstairs-downstairs dichotomy. The Paradise, a bioluminescent sanctuary beneath the oppressive city of New Babylon, contrasts with the decaying urban landscape above. I found the resistance leader Jinx to be as well developed as Cassandra, with their shared trauma fueling a collective fight against their dystopian reality. The solidarity and mutual support between them are believable only because of how Evans makes them so lifelike. Their defiance and willingness to sacrifice everything reflect not just a reaction to external oppression but also their internal strength and commitment to justice. They are active agents of change, and we need stories like this now more than ever. Very highly recommended.

Pikasho Deka

Menticide: The Awakening is a dystopian sci-fi thriller by Richard M. Evans. The New Babylon metropolis and its inhabitants live under the firm thumb of ZenithCorp, a corporation run by the mysterious Four Horsemen, who work toward a Cyber Apocalypse. When Cassandra Turner discovers a nefarious plot to mind control the city's population, she infiltrates ZenithCorp's mainframe and steals the files that can expose their plans. She finds sanctuary in Paradise, an underground hideout for the Neon Reapers, a rebel group led by the enigmatic Jinx. However, there is a bounty on Cassandra's head, and rival gangs hunt for her. After faking her own death, Cassandra undergoes cybernetic upgrades and mods to become Cipher. Now, with an ancient relic of a hypercar, she must participate in the dangerous Neon Rush race and expose ZenithCorp once and for all.

Menticide: The Awakening is one of those edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thrillers you don't want to end. Moving at a breakneck speed, this dystopian cyberpunk tale engrosses you from beginning to end, leaving no quarter for any fat or fluff as you find yourself flying through the pages, wondering what's in store. Richard M. Evans has built a captivating dystopian world featuring greedy corporations, deadly gangs, hackers who work in the shadows, fearless rebels, ruthless assassins, and more. Imagine if The Fast and The Furious met Blade Runner; it would probably end up looking something like this. Each character has an important role to play and unique traits that make an impression on the reader. Aside from Cipher's friendship with Jinx, I also liked the rest of the Neon Reapers' crew. If you're a fan of dystopian cyberpunk fiction, definitely grab a copy!

K.C. Finn

Menticide: The Awakening is a work of fiction in the cyberpunk science fiction, adventure, and action genres, and is the opening novel in the Binary dystopian series. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience although it contains some graphic violence. Penned by author Richard M. Evans, this thrilling tale is set in New Babylon, a dystopian future location where the corporation ZenithCorp controls civilization while cybergangs dominate the underworld. Cassandra, a young programmer, discovers a plot for technological menticide aimed at the city's oppressed. With a stolen data drive, she must escape ZenithCorp, controlled by the shadowy Four Horsemen, and join the underground resistance group, Paradise. As she becomes a target, Cassandra must survive, fight, and race in the violent Neon Rush to expose the corporation's schemes and ignite the resistance, undergoing radical neural upgrades to confront the impending digital apocalypse.

Author Richard M. Evans uses fast-paced storytelling to deliver a thrilling dive into a cyberpunk dystopian world brimming with life and detail. The neon-lit streets of New Babylon and the oppressive control of ZenithCorp provide a vivid backdrop for Cassandra's gripping journey. I loved the atmospheric crafting of these strange new places and how well this matched the emotions at play in every scene. The stakes felt palpably high as she navigated the dangerous underworld and the looming threat of a digital apocalypse, and there were plenty of well-timed twists to offer new revelations and discoveries along the way. The action-packed narrative is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats and desperate to know more about this fantastically built world in future books. Cassandra's transformation, through radical neural upgrades, also highlighted the blurred line between humanity and machine, posing profound questions about identity and survival that added a poignant undertone to the novel as a whole. Overall, Menticide: The Awakening is a bold and exciting standout in the cyberpunk genre that I loved.