H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?
The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.
The opening of this novel was a wonderful mixture of dark, mysterious and foreboding. It caught my attention and made me frantic to read on to find out what happens to the strange, inhuman baby.
The characters were intriguing from the offset, especially Erika. She has a strong, confident spirit, but she also shows undying loyalty towards her friends, and the people she cares most about.
Natalie Wright cleverly uses time/location skipping to further the readers’ suspense and eagerness. This also included alternating the point of view between Erika, H.A.L.F 9 and various other characters, keeping the us on our toes. I relished the way H.A.L.F 9 is portrayed. You clearly know he isn’t human but he feels like we do, and so we empathise with his situation.
The way that 9 interacts with the humans; Erika, Jack and Ian, and how they react to 9, is touching. The humans casually accept his existence, and even help him, offering a small hope of friendship. But 9 knows the government won’t let him go peacefully if at all, and he knows what must be done to stop them.
I adored the writing style of this novel, especially in the dialogue. 9’s responses are almost an automated, like a robot, but he feels compassion and fear, as well anger and hatred. Understanding and comparing 9 to the real human dialects, and expression of the teenagers, makes for extremely interesting reading.
I loved the addition of the second H.A.L.F – who is female and has been trained and ordered to retrieve 9. 10, like 9, is curious and wants to know more about herself and the world around her. However, she cannot ask questions as it will lead to punishment from the Commander, as she has been trained not to respond to emotion. But one key thing that made me like H.A.L.F 10 was the fact she refers to H.A.L.F 9 as her brother, but no aloud.
The way H.A.L.F 9 interacts with Erika, Ian and Jack creates a good plot line. As they try to understand him, and his purpose/origins, in turn he tries to understand them. This makes an interesting sub point to the imminent threat from the Commander and A.H.D.N.A group.
By the time I reached the second part of the novel I was completely invested in the characters and their story. I wanted 9 to take his freedom, but I also sense he may have some degree of attraction to Erika.
The weak link in the group is Ian, as he constantly refuses to believe 9. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that the Commander is going to have them killed. I feel he may be the ‘Judas’ among them and betray them later on.
As we come into the final sector we are hoping for so many things with little evidence they will have success. The ending of this book was just was everything I hoped for. It was action packed and fast paced, with tons of tension and suspense.
Wright created a great cliffhanger. It left many unanswered question, without it being overwhelming, but still leaves enough room for another book.
I cannot wait to read more from these characters and find out more about the aliens. Hopefully I’ll be able to dive into the second book and have my questions answered. For any sci-fi, action or military novel lovers I highly recommend you pick this book up as soon as you can.
A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Working in collaboration with Jodie Loves Books