Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi
Publication date: October 10, 2017
Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters… The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him. From one of science fiction’s undisputed masters comes a riveting page-turner that pulls no punches.
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
I think I read Ship Breaker a couple of years after it first came out. I remember thinking how dark and brutal it was. Then of course I read Drowned Cities when it came out and was totally awestruck by it. This is really science fiction at it’s best. It has been five years since the last book and I didn’t think there would be another one, so I was quite pleased to see this come up on my NetGalley dashboard. I was also pleased to see that it was about Tool. He was a secondary, but important character in the first two books, and I was fascinated by him even with what little we knew about him in those books. This is his story mostly although other characters from the first two books play roles in this story.
This book picks up Tool’s story a few years after the events in Drowned Cities. Tool is different from other augments, in that he can think for himself and he doesn’t have a master. This book mostly covers why that is and it was quite a shocker when it is revealed. Like the other books this one is brutally honest in it’s depiction of war. There is a lot of death, sometimes on a vast scale, but mostly on a much deeper and personal level. Most of the other characters are kids, some in their teens, but many much younger, who are forced to fight against more powerful and better equipped organizations.
The story is mostly told through Tool’s point of view, with other chapters told by characters from the first two books. There is one new voice however that I really like. Arial Jones is an analyst for one of the powerful organizations that rules this world. She has been tasked with finding Tool for her boss General Caroa. She is a very interesting character that has a lot of conflicting feelings about what she has done. She is the voice that shows us what war is like for those who fight it from a distance with drones and bombs and never really meet their enemy face to face. She looks at what the bombs have done to the Drowned Cities and is very conflicted about what she has done and the devastating consequences of it.
The thing I like most about these books is their realism. There is always something in the back of my mind that thinks, this is what the world may become in the future when the oceans rise and the oil runs out. It is also about science run amok, in the case of the augments and some of the other technologies. It is a very bleak world that is depicted here, but there is some hope in the characters courage and determination to keep moving forward even against the toughest odds. I hope to reread this series sometime in the near future, so that I can better appreciate the world and the characters that have been created.