Publication Date: May 1, 2012
In Monster: Nightrider’s Vengeance by J.D. Rhoades, the eponymous “monster”, Laura, is a Nightrider. Nightriders are killing machines which are based on vampires and engineered to win wars. Once, with the aid of Hellboys (based on werewolves) and Dead Boys (zombies), the wars are won, and their usefulness is over; the Nightriders are exposed to a virus killing Laura’s unit including her lover. Only she escapes termination. Laura, with her new companion Jess, sets on a path of revenge against the people who killed her unit. During an OP in exchange for information gone bad, Laura accidentally discovers a new artificial intelligence that will either help her to get revenge or change everything.
This is my kind of “Twilight.” Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires fighting it out with each other and the humans to stay alive.
Monster: Nightrider’s Vengeance makes sense on a lot of levels. The futuristic setting was detailed without weighing down the flow of the action. The overall premise is very likely. A species is created for war and starts showing independence. Does it not make sense to kill them all? There are deep commentaries about genocide and what makes a thing human in this novel that may not have been intended by the author. Laura loves Jess, she feels hate, she experiences compassion. Is she not a member of a species that should live on?
I had to admit to a moment of surprise, finding the main character of Monster: Nightrider’s Vengeance to be female. This author writes very gritty and brutal characters and, as it happened, Laura is no less gritty and brutal. Despite a very high level of violence, Laura herself is a very likable character. She is cold, selfish and can be heartless, but she has a fierce passion that you can’t help but respect. Laura says to the reader at one point in the narrative that her people have “Minds of our own. We have thoughts, feelings, dreams.” We see that within the scope of the character we experience.
Laura’s depth of feeling for the baseline character Jess and her conflicting emotions with her creator, Wagner, show us a fully rounded, if extreme, person and I couldn’t help but cheer for her. One of the few things I found didn’t work for me in the story was Laura referring to Jess as “Honey.” I can see that being a very human thing to do but as much as Laura struggled with who she was, human didn’t ever seem to be one of the options. I found, as a reader, the endearment kind of stopped me because it felt so out of touch with the nature of this particular novel.
One of my science fiction soft spots is for zombies. I don’t think it gives anything away to say that there is a zombie uprising in this novel, and I loved it. Nixx writes action very well. The heart races and the urgency is felt, and I just loved this new world he created.
This story had a heavily plotted vein of conspiracy and betrayal that I have loved in other novels by this author. The spirit of the characters could be transferred to the modern-day narrative without issue, but they shine in the futuristic setting.
The thing I liked best about this book is that it ends with a hint of more to come. As much as I liked the narrative given the twists and turns we take to get to the end, I would be eager to see these characters continue. I anticipate great things for the next novel by J.D. Nixx.
Read an excerpt and buy Monster: Nightrider’s Vengeance by J.D. Nixx (J.D. Rhoades) on