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    Super fun read from this promising new author!

    This debut novel from Erik Angle is a surprisingly fun read, while still a sizable dose of emotional grit and intellectual drama. I’d recommended it highly to fans of sci-fi, cyberpunk, alt-reality, 80s game culture, hacker/soft warfare, paranormal, cipher/spy thrillers, or just thoughtful, action-oriented spectacle in general. It manages to capture all of those elements, believe it or not, and serves them very well individually. I would imagine it pleases a 20/30 something audience best, or even a conceptually advanced teenage demo, but the 80s nostalgia-tinged environment is terribly enjoyable for the older crowd as well. Exuvia Set balances well the tensions and angst of a small band of urban youth – each with their own set of issues (and skills) – and the thoughtfully-paced unfolding of another world, much like our own, but different in the most interesting ways. An arcade is not simply that, for example, and the way we interact with this world’s “Internet” is an excellent story element in itself. The reveals of the alt-dynamics don’t feel rushed either, and a great deal of care is made in presenting the characters as real, believable people. I was most surprised by the impressive development of all these moving parts – Exuvia Set being the author’s first work. And that’s the magic with this one; it never reads like an author’s first outing, which is no small thing given Angle’s command of fairly complex material and subject matter. And the fact that it’s just the first in series is enough to simultaneously tantalize and torture a reader like myself. As the pages grew fewer, I sensed some specter of sadness approach. While I’d consider this a somewhat unusual story, and difficult to precisely pin down genre-wise (which I rather like), it seems to be most informed by a Blade Runner aesthetic and an AKIRA sense of action. Neither of those narratives, however, hold a light (neon or otherwise) to the level of emotional heft and real world feeling this story gifts the reader. Angle’s love for Japanese street culture and American pop culture is obvious and on full display in a burgeoning, urban alt-New England - 1981. The metropolis itself strains under the weight of its rapid growth – more of a municipal mutation fueled by technology and commerce – and the corporations at the helm seem all too happy to pass that burden directly to the populace. These people - not just the subway vents - exude steam here. The population itself sways like an aging edifice. Litter is swept into darkened, hissing alleyways and the minds of the citizens alike. There are so many beautifully constructed word pictures awarded to the reader in this book – a few of which I originally included in my review, only to remove them before posting, for fear of spoiling something for you. Suffice to say, if you’ve read this far – Exuvia Set is most assuredly time well spent. You won’t regret inviting yourself along to run with Bobby and his small band of rebels as they hack networks, fight in alleyways, and mourn in the guidance counselor’s office. Together you’ll sweat as you struggle to scale a city too big to be beneficial, and race to uncover a nefarious plot too powerful to be stopped.
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