I didn’t know what I was getting into when I first started reading August Kitko. In fact, I only knew that it would include a person named August, giant mechs, jazz music, and a race to save the world. Now I know that it’s way more than that and one of my favorites this month. Thanks Orbit Books for the gifted read!
When an army of giant robot AIs threatens to devastate Earth, a virtuoso pianist becomes humanity’s last hope in this bold, lightning-paced, technicolor new space opera series from the author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.
Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards–ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine.
But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens–the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus’s swan song becomes humanity’s encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity.
If you’re a fan of cinematic movies like The Matrix, Armageddon, and Transformers, then this is the book for you. The book takes place in the very far future, about 600 years, in a world that’s still thriving, but on the brink of destruction. Five years prior, an alien tech arrived destroying human beings by the thousands, absorbing their memories. The whole the world believed that this was the end of humanity, an unceremonious wipe of the human race. August Kitko, a jazz pianist who’s already lost his entire family to the tech, is ready to die. On the night the world was scheduled to end, Gus attends a party hosted by a prominent lord to play out the end of the world with some good times.
However, things change when the end of the world doesn’t come and Gus is kidnapped by a giant mech forced to become a conduit of all the human memories that it absorbed. Gus finds out that the mech, aka Greymalkin, is no longer a villainous AI and willing to help the human race hold some semblance of life on Earth.
I loved this futuristic view of the world. It feels so familiar because it reminds me of what we see nowadays except with the added bonus of tech that automates everything for us. The world Alex White envisions in their story is remarkable. The descriptions are so vivid that you can literally see what they’re describing and it lends itself well when it comes to the big fight scene between mechs in space. Their writing is also very casual and contemporary. I loved that while they’re describing massive mech battles in space, there was also levity and humor in their voice.
I also thought that the story was so genius. It reminded me a lot of those futuristic sci-fi movies I mentioned earlier, but combining them all to create this intelligent world where sentient AI are out to kill the human race. I think that one of my absolute favorite things about science fiction like this is how humans come together to fight a bigger threat to them.
While Gus is the person named in the title, the book also follows Ardent Violet. They’re a very famous pop star who hooks up with Gus at the “end of the world” party only to find themself saving Gus when he’s abducted by the mech. They eventually become a part of the team designated to help save the world. I also really loved how different Gus and Ardent were. Gus feels more like this introverted jazz pianist who’s spent a lot more time alone than Ardent has. While Ardent definitely carried the pop star/celebrity vibe, they were also so vulnerable and scared about what they’re about to do.
The music in this book was also a major player. I loved how the mech responded to Ardent and Gus’s talents choosing them to be their conduits and how that music plays throughout the story as a way for them to connect to their mechs. It was such a clever way to incorporate that piece of both these characters and not let it fall to the wayside.
This was such a solid start to a new series from Alex White. While it’s my first by them, I’m definitely a fan now and I can’t wait to see what happens to Gus, Ardent, and the giant mechs in the next book!