When I heard about this book, I was excited. Modern military and magic? Sounded like a blast. This book delivered on that. The inclusion of helicopters versus giant monster birds was enough to get my approval.
But the worldbuilding was more intricate than the air battles I signed up for. The author carefully painted how we'd react as a society to magic "reawakening" -- politics, religion, economics. The novel focused on the military, but the tastes of other issues were tantalizing. The reactions were realistically diverse across the globe. Some nations rejected all magic. Some incorporated it into their labor force. Others -- like the United States -- restricted magic to military service. Any person who manifested in magic won an automatic, lifetime draft.
Oddly enough, when the missiles and magic cleared, I realized Control Point is, at its core, a character novel. The main character, Britton, manifests in a rare magical school and finds himself forced to examine the politics around magic as politics beat him up. The various factions make convincing arguments. No straw men here. Little by little, Britton discovers his new world, decides what the moral high ground is, and steps up. In that way, I think this book will appeal to fans of old fashioned dystopians.
Except, dystopian novels usually have a clear answer. Big Brother is bad. End of story. Britton's call is not so easy. I'm skirting around spoilers, but I'm still not sure he made the right choice -- there's another one that might have succeeded as well. Even if he did pick the rightpath, it's not going to be an easy one. I'm intensely curious to see how things play out in the next book.
As a side note, I got to talk to the author. He took a lot of care to craft solid female characters in a novel filled with guns and special ops and wanted to know if that came across for me. I've read a number of books where the women sound like angry teenage boys crammed into skimpy blouses, but not this one. It was refreshing to read an action book where women weren't relegated to hard-core cold killers or love interests. I'm resisting the urge to gush about the fascinating Sarah Downer. Thoroughly enjoyable book -- but do check the content table. It made me think, but it's not for every audience.
Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Military grade.
Sensuality: Mild, except note the foul language, and check Mature Themes.
Violence: Like the Hunger Games times three. Maybe four. Occasionally disturbing.