“A serial killer is nothing new to the mystery genre. A woman kidnapped by one who has been watching and stalking her for years is nothing special, either. But take these ingredients and add a near-future setting (2041), more than a dose of political intrigue, and the efforts of sons to retrieve their mother (only to uncover a snake's pit of family secrets entwined with deadly political and social conflict) and you have an original, gripping saga in Shatter Point.Everything comes together with a bang, here; from decades of a killer's careful plots to a future America vastly changed, but firmly grounded on logical outcomes of actions in modern times.
One would expect the story to open with its protagonist Maggie, or perhaps her stalker Cooper: instead, it all begins in a lab where scientists are experimenting with a drug that regenerates brain tissue - a drug about to be used on a young patient, which holds the potential to end Alzheimer's and improve cognitive function - or kill.
From genetic manipulation and twists of fate to cold-blooded murder, scenarios change with a snap but succeed in bringing readers along for what evolves into a wild ride of not just murder and mayhem, but social inspection: "Without extraordinary vines, truly superior wine cannot flourish. The same is true with humans. Only those with the proper genetic code can truly be exceptional.”
As events evolve from lab to real world and spill over into 2041 interactions and political possibilities, the focus on a dangerous drug's development and use centers Shatter Point and keeps it a turbulent story with a powerful focal point. And one of the points is: the drug has its pros and cons. Like everything else in Shatter Point, nothing is simple or cut-and-dried.
It's when you add the social issues, however, that the story really gets interesting and departs from anticipated routes: "That’s the best part.” Wickersham laughed. “We can brainwash the ghettos and transform them into hard-working citizens at the same time. Some will even work themselves to death without realizing what they’re doing.”
The promise of a cancer vaccine, the secret Project Qing that involves the highest levels of government, a Vice President of the U.S. who believes his superior genes gives him the right to not only manipulate but kill - all this coalesces in a thriller that grabs readers and doesn't let go, skillfully twisting, turning, and manipulating its plot for maximum impact.
Now, readers of the prior Fourteenth Colony (of which this reviewer is not) [newly revised Fracture Point] will likely be satisfied with a sequel which further adds social and political perspectives to the futuristic setting; but newcomers will find absolutely no prior familiarity is necessary to enjoy Shatter Point as the stand-alone thriller that it is - and that's saying a lot in a publishing world where too many books that should ideally be singular volumes are broken down into cliff-hanging trilogies and beyond.
The dystopian world posited by Shatter Point, in which wealth and privilege is concentrated in a relatively small pool and everyone else struggles with marginal lives in tightly regulated circles, is more than believable. Issues of poverty are taken to new levels here, while characters share often-cloudy degrees of responsibility to themselves and each other. At the heart of many issues is the ideal of superiority and the 'right' of some individuals to decide for others; even in life-or-death situations.
In such a scenario, individual actions and responsibility become equally murky, and even the strongest protagonist (such as Maggie) can find herself confused about the points where a little knowledge translates to social responsibility and when it should be limited to protecting one's turf.
From the moral and ethical dilemmas posed by drug testing to the control of violence in a society dominated by privilege, Shatter Point reveals much food for thought. Add the overlap of romance, murder mystery, and political thriller and you have a truly multifaceted read that grabs a hold with powerful protagonists and issues and won't let go till its logical, satisfyingly unexpected conclusion: a neat wrap-up perfect for a precisely-evolving thriller.”