Title: The Drafter
Author: Kim Harrison
Review: Bestselling author Kim Harrison steps away from urban fantasy and the witches, vampires, and other supernatural creatures that inhabit the world of her bounty hunter Rachel Morgan in The Hollows series to take a stab at a futuristic time-travel action-thriller with The Drafter, the first book of her new Peri Reed Chronicles series.
Peri Reed is a drafter, which means she has the ability to time-travel and alter history, an uncommon and valuable skill to have in the year 2030. Peri uses her rare gift to protect others while working as an operative for Opti, a top-secret government agency. Unfortunately, each trip back in time causes memory loss, and even a quick jump of 30 seconds can yield six weeks’ worth of amnesia, and sometimes even more. That’s why each drafter is teamed up with an anchor who can help retrieve some of those lost memories. For that, Peri has Jack, her anchor of three years and also her live-in love.
As far as Peri is concerned, she’s got a wonderful life with a great relationship and a fulfilling, purposeful career, all while enjoying the finer things in life like fine wines and designer clothes. But all of that comes to an abrupt end when while on an assignment with Jack she discovers her name on a list of corrupt Opti agents. Because of all the drafts she’s done, there’s a lot of holes in her memory, but her gut instinct — which is very strong — tells her it can’t be true. There’s no way she’s corrupt! But, how can she prove it? Who can she trust? Everywhere she turns, she feels that something is wrong, and that people she’s known a long time who she’s trusted with her life are not being honest with her now.
Throughout the action-packed adventure, Peri unravels more and more secrets and conspiracies, that she then forgets with each a draft, which is why all of the other characters have no problem revealing their true intentions to her — they know that in less than a minute, she won’t remember what they said to her. This puts the reader in the unique position of knowing who’s working against Peri while she then struggles to figure it out over and over again. Thankfully, Peri’s not only a trained soldier, she’s also clever and intuitive. She leaves herself coded messages that she hopes she’ll be able to uncover and decipher after each draft, which are becoming more frequent and involuntary as the danger she faces increases.
Fans of Kim Harrison will understandably want to know how The Draftercompares to The Hollows series — I know that was my first thought. If you’re expecting the same style and pacing as Harrison’s urban fantasy offerings, you might be disappointed with her inaugural foray into science fiction. But Harrison is a talented writer who nails the nuances of the scifi-action genre, so if you can put aside your preconceived notions and accept a new heroine, The Drafter makes for one enjoyable ride — you just have to pay close attention to the details, as there are many.
The Hollows, which began with 2004’s Dead Witch Walking, opened with the first-person perspective of Rachel Morgan, a bounty hunting demon-witch who while extremely kick-ass and proficient, was also always getting in trouble at her job for screw-ups she felt were not really her fault. With Peri Reed, on the other hand, everyone — including Peri — knows her worth and even those who are working against her respect her abilities and her rarity. Also, the writing is much different between the two series. While The Hollows is straight-talking and easy to follow, The Drafter, which is told in third-person, can get perplexing with its time-travelling and futuristic cultural and technological differences, as well as with the many twists and turns the story takes. There’s a lot to keep track of and none of it is spelled out for the reader.
There’s also a seriousness to it that keeps you on edge through the whole escapade — there’s none of Rachel Morgan’s self-depreciating humor here. And, there’s rarely a sigh of relief; Peri is in danger and there truly seems to be no way out except death, and even that isn’t a long-lasting solution.
The Drafter is an interesting sci-fi action-thriller in the vein of Minority Report, Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau, and The Bourne Identity that will keep the reader guessing and rooting for its main character as she figures out who is double-crossing her and why. If you’re a Kim Harrison devotee, you’ll likely appreciate this latest addition, though first you might have to put aside your urban fantasy predilections and embrace this complicated time-travel venture.
Don’t be surprised if The Drafter gets optioned for a feature film — it’s got Hollywood blockbuster written all over it.
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