Book Review: Control Point

Control Point by Myke Cole, Shadow Ops #1

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down--and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known, and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for.

I have had my eye on this book for a while now, a very very long time. Too be honest I have postponed reading the book because the introduced premise is just so cool that I didn't want it to disappoint me. So after finally taking the plunge I have to say that this is one of those books that will leave your mouth wide open. It's. Just. Freaking. Awesome. It's not only flashy military and supernatural action but there is definite mindset introduced that makes you think about rules, regulations and ranks amongst the army. Control Point is written by Myke Cole and seeing his background in the Army you can see where he got some of his idea's from. I am a big fan of Urban Fantasy and Military Fantasy, Control Point doesn't place very strongly to one side but fits nicely in the middle and to be honest with some stuff that is going on on the other dimensions (yes I will get to that) there is a definite hint of Epic Fantasy as well. 

From the start of Control Point you are placed right front and center in the action and it really is from start to finish an action movie. Myke Cole's writing style has a definite way of catching your attention and dragging you readily into the book. The premise of the book surely helps to get you in the mood of the story but the execution is just as important. The action of the book is focused on the main protagonist Oscar Britton, but instead of using a first person narration, Myke Cole has opted for a third person narration, not telling the story through the eyes of Oscar but looking over his shoulder. Considering the breakneck pace of the book and all the events that are happening surrounding Oscar this was a very solid desicion as this allowed both a great emphasis on Oscar's development but also allowing the foundations to be laid for some solid world building. 

As mentioned, you closely follow the steps of the main protagonist Oscar Britton. The beginning of the story of Control Point already offers a very interesting perspective to not only the characters but also the view upon the politics in the world. Oscar Britton is a Lieutenant of the US Army and has a role as a helicopter pilot. He and his squad act as a support unit to the Supernatural Division of the US Army, the Supernatural Operations Corps or SOC in short. The beginning of the story offers a situation that needs to be resolved. Two latent teenagers have manifested in groups of magic and are using their powers illegaly to disastrous effects. Together with a group of SOC sorcerors led by Harlequin an Aeromancer, Oscar and his team have to put it to a halt. Already in these brief scenes you get to see a division that magic causes in society, it is all tightly controlled by the US government and if you don't obey you are being dealt with. Also Oscar is indiscive as to what to do. THey are about to go in and "deal" with teenagers. This raises quite an debate in his mind, but he has been trained to be a soldier and lets this take over in order to carry out his task in the best possible way... After resolving the mission, Oscar discovers something terrible for himself. He is Latent. He gains powers in a prohibited school, that of Portamancy, and Oscar knows very well what they do with the Probe, they are too dangerous to let live... 

Oscar cannot control his powers and flees to his elderly home where everything becomes even worse. It soon does come to show that all that Oscar was led to believe about the US governments view upon magic users and those who manifest in prohibited school was wrong. Now Oscar finds himself in the ranks of the SOC, completely bewildered by all that he encounters. He has to come to terms with his new gained powers and the responsibilities that come with it. His power, that of Portamancy, is a very rare prohibited school of magic and the SOC and US Army need Oscar to give them their edge... but will Oscar be able to make the cut again?

I really liked the story that Myke Cole wrote with Control Point, the front cover might be a bit misleading in emphasizing the military aspect of the book. Myke Cole introduces a lot of the army slang abbreviations into the story that when you are a guy like me, really sets the mood straight, shouting orders with 3 letter words. I have read plenty of military science fiction books and yes they have all been action packed and will get you to the edge of your seat in a matter of moments, here Control Point isn't an exception. But what Myke Cole does with the character of Oscar Britton gives you perhaps a much more closer link to the military life (just so you know I have no experience what so ever on how military life is). But I can imagine that you are a trained person that has to act and preform in the best possible way and that when you country needs you, you give everything you have, and when action gets tense you have to act in the heat of the moment. I really liked that some of this was explored in the story by several characters and also one other big thing. We live in democracy, we should be free to go stand wherever we choose to. When you are in the SOC, you don't have these options, this short side track for a struggle for freedom and not being controlled added a very deep layer to Control Point. Though it is on the first take a straighforward book, when you think about the story in some different ways, it's becoming to be even better.

The characters that feature in the book are really well thought out and executed. There are a very diverse set of characters present. First and foremost the Oscar Britton, helicopter pilot, runaway and probe. He is the main lead and you see the story unravel before his eyes. I liked how he was showed his determination and perseverance. He is captures by the SOC and trained to become a soldier, his Portamancy is one of the strongest classes, hence: GIMAC! great stuff. That aside, Oscar never looses sight of his earlier "feelings" that of seeing how latent people are being treated and even though he has been given a great job amongst the SOC, he doesn't feel at home there. Especially when he sees other people around him that are being treated in horrible ways... something has to give... Other characters that you meet up with in Control Point are the warrant officer of the Forward Operation Base: Fitzy, he is the one training Oscar, their relation is far from without any problems, despite this Oscar does have a lot to owe to Fitzy when it comes to controlling his powers and growing up. There are also other like Oscar present, runaways that have manifested in prohibited schools of magic like Scylla, who is considered "bat-shit" insane her powers are of the dark arts called Negramancy and many others that have powers in the field of Necromancy or summoning Elementals. Next to the humans, there are also other creature that inhabit the world of Control Point: Goblins, yup, Goblins. They inhabit the Source (will get to that) and are the worker bees at the Forward Operations Base (where Oscar is being trained). One of the Goblins that you meet in detail is Marty, and I am going to say it. I loved the little bugger! 

Coming back to the Goblins and the "Source", the other dimension that I promised early on the review. The story of Control Point takes place mostly in another dimension, accessible by Portamancy. Myke Cole has created a very interesting world within the book. It has a lot of action in the urban environment with the first scenes featuring Oscar but soon he changes the perspective to an more fantasy surrounding with Goblins that's where the hint of Epic Fantasy comes from. Though he doesn't let it overshadow the story too much, the urban and military elements are the main drive of the story. Letting the story take place in another dimension did allow the exploration of a completely new world and society that accompanies it. You can clearly see that Myke Cole invested a lot of time in showing the round and abouts of the Source, there are some interesting changes going on right there. 

When I was just finishing the first chapter of Control Point, I tweeted: "Where have you been all my life". For me, with Control Point, Myke Cole has just taken military fiction and urban fantasy to a completely new level. The whole setting of the book is just plain and simply awesome. I guess this is pretty much a guy thing, who doesn't like to read about superpowers and military action? The book is sprawling with action from the first page right down until the last one. The characters that you meet in Control Point are memorable and they will grow on you, these aren't the hardened veterans of the military but young guys and girls who are obliged with entering the Army, while they would rather just spend their lives in the real world. Myke Cole paints a downright hard picture that sees some rays of sunshine in the end of the book. I think this story is far from over yet... Will Oscar be a catalyst of change? Need to get to Fortress Frontier asap.


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