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Book Review- “Bravo”

 

Bravo 1In his 2012 novel “Alpha” Greg Rucka engaged in some amazing and utterly believable world building by transporting readers to a fictional Disney World style amusement park that was under siege by terrorists. He also populated that world with compelling characters like Master Sergeant Jonathan “Jad” Bell an undercover Special Forces operator tasked with ending the siege and his ex-wife and daughter who show up on the park on the fateful day of the take over. You can find my review of it here.

Rucka’s new novel “Bravo” is a follow up to “Alpha” and instead of throwing Jad into a similar situation the writer does something much cooler and more satisfying. He gives readers something new, but equally fascinating that continues the story that began in “Alpha” and takes it in a number of new and exciting directions.

“Bravo” picks up 72 hours after the end of “Alpha” with Jad and his team of operators on a mission to capture one of the men behind the attack on the Wilsonville amusement park. So when we catch up with Jad he’s tired, physically and emotionally battered, and suddenly thrust into a world of double dealings and espionage. As he says multiple times in the book, “he’s just a shooter” and he’s up against a number of powerful and cunning enemies that are experts at manipulation and staying hidden. He doesn’t lie down and give up though. He and his team continue to push themselves and valiantly pursue the leads in the mystery they’re dealing with. That makes Jad both a great hero to follow and a nice tribute to to the real world men and women who sacrifice so much and push themselves so hard to keep their country and the world safe.

Jad isn’t the only returning character in “Bravo” we also get to spend some time with his ex-wife Amy and his deaf daughter, Athena, who is an identifiable, and realistic teen. We also get to know Jad’s commanding officer General Ruiz a bit more and some of his team mates as well.
The book is also full of incredibly interesting new characters as well,my favorite being Chief Warrant Officer Petra Nessuno, an undercover ArmyGreg-Rucka-331x500 Intelligence officer that Jad and his team encounter in the book’s opening mission. She returns to the states with Jad and his team and we get to see what it’s like for her to come back to real life. The scenes with Petra where she comes to terms with the emotional damage she endured while under cover are haunting and poignant. So Petra is hurting, but she’s just like Jad in that she realizes she has a job to do and is unwilling to give up. Watching her struggle with her personal demons and the villainous cabal threatening to launch another terrorist attack on America is a lot of fun. From my perspective she’s as much the hero of the book as Jad is.

My favorite scenes are the ones where Jad and Petra are interacting. They’re such noble and damaged souls that you root for them to triumph over their terrorist enemies and find comfort in each others company. The chemistry between both characters when they’re together is fantastic.

“Bravo”isn’t just about heroes. In the book you also walk with a number of insidious villains like a traitorous general and a network of wealthy and powerful men trying to broker a devastating terrorist attack on American soil. Those men are engaging the services of an enigmatic individual known as “The Architect,” who is the chief villain of “Bravo.” We get to know the Architect first by reputation and then we get to see that reputation is well deserved in a number of chapters told from his point of view. We also get to meet his lover Jordan, a dangerous woman who is as cunning as she is deadly.

These villains and heroes clash in perfectly paced chapters that play with perspective and timing. So “Bravo” is a thriller that’s exiting, poignant, and a hell of a lot of fun. In the book Rucka once again shows that the best way to tell a sequel is to trust the strength of your characters and immerse them in new situations where they bounce off new and equally fascinating characters.

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