If you take the time to look and consider, there are often important lessons you can learn from novels. Sometimes characters exhibit traits and growth that we, ourselves, would do well to emulate. Shadow Ops: Breach Zone contains some of those lessons and role models.
Good people do bad things. We call them mistakes. The hard part about being in a position of real responsibility is that the second and third order effects can greatly exceed even our most jaded expectations. For LTC Jan Thorsson, call-sign Harlequin, those effects manifested themselves when his former lover and the most dangerous woman in the world manages to rip a hole between the Source and downtown New York City to release a flood of goblins and other enemies of humanity.
As a result of having done the right, if not politically expedient thing, recently promoted Brigadier General Bookbinder has been put out to pasture. Assigned duties that will keep him away from important decisions and the focus of the nation, Bookbinder is disappointed, disillusioned and depressed that the job he did and the sacrifices he made have not only not gained him the respect he deserves, but have done even more damage to the family that he values above all else. When the ship he is supervising is attacked and nearly overwhelmed after the breach between worlds is opened, Bookbinder’s newly found strength and ability to lead are once again put to the test.
At the core of Shadow Ops: Breach Zone is an argument for change. The evolution of humanity continues to play out with Latent humans striving for recognition of their unique, but still very human role in society. On both sides of the issue are radicals who would see Latents as rulers or see them all dead. With the overwhelming threat of invasion, change becomes not only a desirable end-state, but something that is forced out of desperation. It feels like Cole is making an argument for humans to examine our natural suspicion of things that are new and different and to see how we can evolve and not let the institutions who feel threatened by change rule the day. I enjoyed the philosophical question I felt Cole was asking.
Shadow Ops: Breach Zone is still a fun ride as the forces of good and evil fight for supremacy. Cole’s use of the different strengths and weaknesses of the opposing factions is intriguing. The development and historical background for different characters is also worth reading about. In the end, it’s the excitement of bullets flying, lightning flashing and the fear of imminent destruction that really makes this book fun. It’s what a good urban fantasy book can be when we focus more on the fight and less on the romance.