Title: Retrograde Horizon
Author: Charon Dunn
Genre: Science Fiction / Young Adult
In the second volume of The Adventures of Sonny Knight, Sonny’s fight for survival continues. The young man successfully made it home, but his closest friends and family are still living on an island ruled by terrorist clones.
Sonny now lives with his uncle in an unpleasant part of town, but he’s still home. He should be happy, but he finds he isn’t, especially once the clones start coming after him again. So he and his dog go into protective custody, and when that fails, he fakes his death. At last, tired of being on the run, he commits his dog to a rare animal sanctuary and devotes himself to his problems.
Then he meets up with Kayliss, the female clone who had a crush on him in book one. He discovers she’s not half-bad looking, especially when her hair is all rumpled from dodging assassins and trying to keep him safe.
If he could only find a way to be reunited with his family without having to join them on the clones’ island, his life could be great. Especially if he could clear his name from all the crimes he’s committed in the process of trying to stay alive, and if he could keep Kayliss as his girlfriend. But first, he’s got to deal with all her brothers and almost-look-alikes that want him dead.
This story is adventurous, though still quite thoughtful and reflective for a young adult story. In many ways, it felt like Sonny spends the story running in circles, and while that is part of the theme of the book—that sometimes, one moves farther from one’s goals even when running full-speed towards them—it could make for frustrating reading at times, as it felt like, no matter what Sonny did, he never made any headway.
Like the first volume, it could use some editorial polish, as there were places where words were missing or misspelled, but the world-building is quite intriguing. Retrograde Horizon examines the details of the international government, showing how criminals await their sentences in health pods that keep them perfectly safe…and perfectly isolated, if they don’t behave themselves. Otherwise, they can explore the world through virtual reality, letting their cartoon selves interact with other prisoners and the rest of the world.
This story could be read by itself, as Sonny and his online social world provide enough background information to help new readers figure out what’s going on. However, it did seem like Sonny lost some of his independence and self-sufficiency in this volume. He made a series of decisions without clear logic or a plan, and it felt like the author just needed certain things to happen, and so they happened…without proper motivation on Sonny’s part, which made him come across a bit juvenile.
All the plot threads were nicely accounted for in this intriguing tale of international politics. It brings Sonny’s story to a believable conclusion, with plenty of action and danger to keep readers turning the pages.
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