warning: Spoilers ahead.
As I read the book, I was struck by how many recent SciFi movies have dealt with similar themes.
Like the Matrix: we are introduced to a sentient entity which controls humanity. The difference here is that instead of an alien, the entity is just a manifestation of our greed and the damage we are doing to the planet.
Like Avatar, here too, Earth has run out of resources and enterprising corporations decide to start mining other planets: displacing its current inhabitants for profit. In this case, they first cause a plague which they then use as an excuse to send in ‘aid’.
The book begins 7 years after the events of the first. Hari is no longer the assassin Caine. He has been tamed by the Studio with a job and promises of safety from persecution for his father and a future for his child.
On discovering a plot to infect a plague on Overworld, he acts quickly: publicizing the event without overtly mentioning the Studio as its cause and dispatching his wife (who can commune with a river God) to fashion a cure.
His enemies decide to use the opportunity to break him and in a quick succession of events: take away everything: his job, father & child. He finds himself on Overworld- a cripple- being used as bait to kill his wife before she can cure the plague.
A ‘larger’ plot than the first - Caine is no longer fighting for his own future but that of an entire planet.
Imaginative writing: you are given several glimpses of Caine’s progression: from a troubled teen to the man, from Caine to dejected and resentful Hari and his evolution thereafter.
The author delves deeper into philosophy and religion than you would expect in such a book. Caine often finds himself arguing against ‘Cainists’: followers of what they believe is his philosophy.
As in the last book, the violence is too gruesome in places. The pace at times seemed too slow. Even though reading SciFi involves suspending disbelief, some parts still seemed too improbable. When reading a book which relies on suspense, I would rather read one which gives me all the clues and puts them together cleverly at the end than one which introduces clues after the climax.
Recommended for SciFi and action fans who don’t mind heavy dozes of gore and philosophy.