By Neal Asher
While it may be a cliché to call a book like Jack Four “action-packed” it’s hard to think of a better description. We’re plunged straight into the madness on the first page as the titular narrator (so named because he’s one of twenty clones) hops out of a matrix “coffin” and almost immediately has to start battling for survival.
Non-stop carnage follows as Jack the Bioweapon takes on an all-star line-up of monsters and supersoldiers, enduring what should be multiple season-ending injuries but for his special healing abilities. No matter how much damage he takes he can be almost instantly repaired, leaving him ready to fight another (and another, and another) round.
Though this is a standalone volume set in the Neal Asher’s already well-stocked Polity universe you may feel a bit at sea if you’re not familiar with the crablike prador and their long-running war against humanity. But the device of beginning with Jack’s “birth” and having to learn about his world as he goes along helps, even if you don’t get many chances to stop and catch your breath when the games begin.