Read by Corey Jackson
Length: 15 Hrs 3 Min
Genre: Military Fantasy
Quick Thoughts: Control Point delivered what I thought it would, tons of action, a fascinating world, and an authentic military feel. Yet, it’s what I didn’t expect that put this over the top for me. A hero I’m still not quite sure I can believe in and a blurred line between the good guys and the bad guys that lead to an emotionally devastating climax. Control Point is a novel that will be bouncing around in my head for a long, long time, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
This first part of 2012 was full of new release audiobooks that I was really looking forward to. One of my most anticipated releases was the debut of Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series, called Control Point. One of the reasons that my anticipation was so high, was I first discovered the existence of this series back in July of 2011. As a big fan of military science fiction series, I am always on the lookout for new series. Some of my favorite audiobook experiences have been military science fiction, especially John Ringo and David Weber’s Prince Roger series, and anything by Jack Campbell, aka John Hemry. Yet, with Myke Cole, there was a new added twist, his Shadow Ops is not really military science fiction, but a Military Urban Fantasy series. Basically, what I was picturing was modern day Urban Warfare, but with magic. This was something I haven’t seen before, and was excited about the concept. Also, the fact that Cole has served in the US military, in multiple functions, and has the experience to deliver an authentic account of the modern soldier made me even more interested to see what he had to offer. So, as release day grew closer, I was quite excited. I was looking for a fun, action filled Military Fantasy, written by someone who knows the way a soldier thinks, and what it means to be a piece in the machinery of the US armed forces. Yet, I don’t think I was really prepared for what I was going to experience with this novel.
The World has experienced an Awakening. A small percentage of the earth’s population begins to manifest latent magical talents. As you may expect, this shakes things up pretty well, and governments must adapt to these new powers. In the US, anyone manifesting a magical power must turn themselves into the government, or be hunted down as a “selfer.” Oscar Britton is one of those hunters, until he begins to manifest a very rare and dangerous power, a power that is strictly prohibited by the government, and will probably lead to his death. Cole has created a fascinating near future world that echoes many of the same issues we are dealing with now. He also constructs an interesting and logical magical system. One of my worries was that people who are hesitant about magical fantasy may have trouble with the magic system but Cole bases them on very base ideas, and allows you to get comfortable with their execution, before adding in some interesting twists. As expected. Cole builds a solid foundation with his changed world, but what he does with it is what I wasn’t prepared for. Our main character Oscar Britton’s world is shattered when he discovers his magical talent, and as a soldier he must fight his sense of duty, what he believed to be right with his sense of survival, and his belief in his rights as an American citizen. I found Oscar to be frustrating and at times, uneven. The major theme of this novel is control. Oscar fights to control his new powers, while he also battles to control his own destiny. He goes back and forth with himself, seemingly changing perspectives at a drop of his fat. He is often self delusional, and develops conflicting rationale for what he does, and what is being done to him. He is hyper critical of others, often for doing something he has done himself or will soon do but, is always trying to do what he feels is right. I was so conflicted about Oscar and his decisions. I wanted to like him, I wanted the decisions he made to be right, but I became more and more frustrated with him as the novel progressed. Now, please don’t mistake this criticism of the character for criticism of the author, because it is just the opposite. Cole has created one of the most human characters I have read in a long time. There was one moment in this novel, where I was simply devastated at the decision Oscar was about to make, and had to stop what I was doing, and was actually pleading with him in my head. I’m still not sure what I think about this character and the choices he made, but I was and still am riveted by them. I really can’t think of a better example in fiction where the shades of gray were this explosive. Control Point delivered what I thought it would, tons of action, a fascinating world, and an authentic military feel. Yet, it’s what I didn’t expect that put this over the top for me. If you want a tale with a clearly defined line between the good guys and the bad guys, and a main character who is a hero, incapable of making a wrong choice, then Control Point probably isn’t for you. But, if you like a story that will make you think, a character who acts like the infallible human being he is, and morality colored by perspective instead of being force fed to you by the writer, then you absolutely must read Control Point.
This is my first time experiencing Corey Jackson’s narration and the first thing I noticed was the rich, strong tones of his voice. Jackson was a wonderful choice for the voice of Oscar Britton. I did have a few small issues with the overall production though, and I think for the most part this was due to direction and editing. In the early parts of the novel, Jackson reads with a very slow, deliberate pace, with pauses between sentences that seems just a half second too long. While this worked fine in the fast paced action scenes, it became a bit distracting during some of the slower moments, and I think affected his ability to match the rhythm of the novel. Yet, eventually, the performance smoothed out, and he began to take on the perfect storytelling flow. I found his narration in the second half of the novel to be spot on and memorizing. Jackson doesn’t do a lot to differentiate character voices in many circumstances, just a slight change in tone or cadence, but it works well. I absolutely loved his vocal interpretation of Marty, and I felt he did a good job with the female characters as well. Overall I was very pleased with Jackson’s performance and will be looking for more of his work in the future. I highly recommend Control Point to fans of fast paced action thrillers, along the lines of Jonathon Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, as well as fans of science fiction and fantasy.