Excellent near future dystopian SciFi, this stand alone is a fast-paced page turner. Rob J. Hayes has a real talent for taking mediocre characters with selfish tendencies and turning them into someone that readers will care about.
The protagonist, James Garrick, for me, is instantly relatable. As a drone, he has his reasons for choosing to have his feelings stripped away, harvested by a machine, leaving him numb and empty and that’s just the way he likes it. When the government decides to suddenly and quietly make emotional harvesting and sales legal, the public is now at risk of having their emotions being read by their new PD’s, then having their feelings erased or changed by a corporation and the government that planned it that way.
There is a carefully thought out premise here that will make you wonder again about how much technology is embedded in our lives and our bodies.
James Garrick is a PTSD combat veteran, who found himself unable to cope with the feelings left after his combat years and a traumatizing event involving his young daughter. The harvesting of emotions has just passed a law as legal, and that puts James out of a job, but if there is no need for the black market, why is someone killing the formerly illegal harvesters? When James sudden finds himself without his black market dealer to harvest what’s in his head, he is stuck with the horror and remorse of memories plus the terror of his last escapade. He soon finds himself embroiled in a corporate scheme on a global level while seeking answers, while he finally has to face the landslide of an emotional reality he’s been avoiding. He has been making a living experiencing emotion for harvesting in these black market operations. Suddenly he finds himself loaded with emotions he cannot deal with when his dealer is assassinated by profession killers. He is overloaded with emotions he doesn’t want, and cannot rid himself of. Each emotion he experiences is felt keenly as if for the first time again and again, an after effect of when a drone has been harvested routinely like James Garrick has and now he has no defense against their crippling weight.
Each chapter heading in Drones, like the one below, examines another emotion we humans experience and places its value on the market. They are very introspective and contribute beautifully into the timeline and the plot.
Terror: Freezing. Paralysing. Terror isn’t a big seller. Hard to experience, hard to sell. Not a big seller, but probably the most expensive emotion of them all. Harvesters can charge whatever they like for it.
Hayes skillfully takes us on a journey of high-tech that contrasts sharply with our base human emotions. Written in first person and seen through the eyes of the protagonist, we learn the plot through his experiences, his motivations, and the details of the world around him. The writing is tight and focused and the dialogue is deeply engaging. This is a highly entertaining book that will leave you pondering all the ‘what if’s’ of invasive technology being used in human brains, and the story will stick with you long after the last page.
Highly recommended for readers who love action packed SciFi and Thrillers.