Stormblood by Jeremy Szal: Review

Stormblood is a book that takes you by the eyes and presses you up against the glass that is a window in the brutal world Jeremy has created. A world where aliens like ET don’t exist and the horrors of space are only one adrenaline charged ride away.

Some information about this book:

  • Release date: June 4th 2020
  • Published by: Gollancz
  • Pages: 544
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Series: The Common (Book #1)

Blurb:

Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper, a biosoldier fighting for the intergalactic governing body of Harmony against a brutal invading empire. Now, he fights against the stormtech: the DNA of an extinct alien race Harmony injected into him, altering his body chemistry and making him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. It made him the perfect soldier, but it also opened a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.

But when Harmony tells him that his former ally Reapers are being murdered, Vakov is appalled to discover his estranged brother is likely involved in the killings. They haven’t spoken in years, but Vakov can’t let his brother down, and investigates. But the deeper he goes, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes, and Vakov discovers that the war might not be over after all. It’ll take everything he has to unearth this terrible secret, although doing so might mean betraying his brother. If his own body doesn’t betray him first.

A vibrant and talented new voice in SFF: alien technology, addictive upgrades, a soldier determined to protect his family, and a thief who is prepared to burn the world down…

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I’ve decided to write up an updated review for Stormblood because the sequel, Blindspace, is out very soon on November 11th and I am really excited to read that. I didn’t want a review for Blindspace on the site without one for Stormblood so here we are.

So, Stormblood by Jeremy Szal is a military sci-fi story and I always felt that having the words ‘military sci-fi’ in the description or genre tag meant it would be less fun than a sci-fi only sotry because it would potentially have lots of military jargon taking away the fun and speed of the story but thankfully this is not the case at all.

Stormblood follows Vakov Fukasawa. Vakov is a super soldier who had previously been injected with alien DNA to help fight off Harvest, an enemy force in a previous war. Now the war has ended and Vakov has walked away from Harmony, the people responsible for injecting him with the alien DNA. Only walking away isn’t that easy and Vakov finds himself pulled back into a war on the streets surrounding the very drug he had been injected with as he hears of old colleagues being murdered and family members dragged in for questioning.

“It’s amazing how well you sleep when you’ve got a military-grade, high-velocity autocannon watching your flank.”

Jeremy does a really good job of building what I would call a ‘hub’ in Stormblood. Compass is a giant asteroid which has been mined out and is now host to thousands of lives from different races across the universe. It’s kind of like the citadel from Mass Effect which brings me onto another point. Stormblood has a Mass Effect feel to it and I love it. The other alien races really give you a grander feel for the universe he is creating. I expect in Blindspace we will see and hear more about other alien races since he touches on them in this story. The areas on the asteroid that Jeremy creates are full of life from casinos to bars to restaurants to apartments and workshops. They are all described well in enough detail to let you form an image in your imagination which of course brings it all to life.

The story did feel slow at first and the best way I can describe this is if you’ve ever been on a rollercoaster that goes up slowly then goes down at speed. I felt that the start of the story was worldbuilding and creating depth to Vakov which was fine and then Jeremy takes it off the rails and that’s when I felt I couldn’t put this book down.

I loved the story and thought it was a really unique and interesting concept. I won’t give away any spoilers but the story plays out like a science fiction detective story but with lots of pain, death, brutality, tense scenes and oh shit! moments. I really enjoyed it.

Vakov as a protagonist was great. I felt that he had a good personality to him and this was super important since the book is told in a first person perspective. I felt that he had a soft side which stayed hidden but slowly came out as bonds were made with new characters once Vakov felt he could trust them or he felt like he had no choice but to share information with them. I really liked the way Vakov talked about the Stormtech (alien DNA) inside his body which let me know exactly how it was affecting him.

There were a lot of secondary characters or characters that played supporting roles and I found that these all played a part in driving the story forward. I really hope that some of these come back for Blindspace and have no doubt that Jeremy will kill some of these off causing me to send him a rude tweet.

The whole idea that alien DNA is put into Vakov’s and others’ bodies is a really cool idea and I loved it. It was brilliant to see how it worked and how people can take too much of it and overdose. The idea that this was being used for a drug war on the streets was a really neat idea and was executed really well.

Rating – 4/5 Stormblood is an exciting debut novel which pushes the boundaries of what pain and trauma you think the main character can take in a brutal world. The Stormtech is a wholly unique idea that is used so well to help craft a brilliant story with rapid, heart pounding prose. Jeremy’s imagination is scary as he invents ways to make you wince as you ride through the story as a passenger on a virtual reality ride through hell.

You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here. You can add the sequel, Blindspace, to your Goodreads TBR here.

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

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