Book review: Code Breakers

Book cover for Code Breakers, The Complete Series, by Colin F. Barnes

For my reading list the last couple of years, I set a goal of reading books that I previously purchased. I discovered and bought most of the books through Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals email, although I’m sure a couple came from the Amazon recommendation engine, which I consider my arch-nemesis.

Code Breakers by Colin F. Barnes, which I purchased in December 2016, was one of the last books on that list.

The book is set in a post-apocalyptic earth. A nuclear holocaust has made the planet generally uninhabitable. The majority of the survivors live in a domed city that is tightly controlled and regulated by an entity know as The Family, which was largely responsible for causing the holocaust. The remaining survivors outside the city are grouped into clans that are spread across the planet. While the clans squabble with each other over the limited available resources outside the city, they all have a common enemy in The Family.

Without going into detail about the story or characters, the general plot revolves around the inhabitants of the planet working to break free from the control of The Family. The science fiction parts of the story deals with artificial intelligence, clones, transcendants, and matrix-like environments. If you’ve read sci-fi classics such as William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, you’ll find a lot of similarities.

The book fit squarely into one of my primary reading genres – science fiction with a post-apocalyptic bent. I was looking forward to reading it, until I opened it on my Kindle and saw that it was over 1,100 pages long. I failed to realize that I had purchased the complete series consisting of four books. If I had to do it over, I would have purchased the first in the series before committing to the complete set, and I would have stopped there.

The story isn’t bad or poorly written. It’s just that a lot of time is spent building the environment. It’s great if you like stories that build and immerse you in an environment. I’ve found these aren’t my thing. I like stand-alone novels that are plot driven and focus on the technology, preferably hard sci-fi, over books that are character driven and focus on the environment.

So depending on what you like will determine whether Code Breakers is the book/series for you. This excerpt from the Amazon description is a really good summary of the book: “this box set will delight fans of gritty post-apocalyptic fiction, with a cyberpunk flavor.”

If that fits what you like to read, then you’ll like Code Breakers. Otherwise, you may want to start with the first book, and then decide if you want to read the rest of the series.

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