Monday, February 23, 2015

Indy Review - Codename: Winterborn, by Declan Finn & Allan Yoskowitz

Codename: Winterborn is a novel in two acts. The first is a paean to vigilante justice; the second, a dystopic thriller. The former narrative, I must admit, didn't really work for me; once the action shifts to San Francisco, however, the story settles down and becomes something both serviceable and interesting.

Winterborn is set at the end of the 21st century after an "accidental" nuclear conflict dubbed the "April Fool's War" has irradiated a third of the planet (including the western half of the US). The main character, Kevin Anderson, is an intelligence officer who, at the opening of the book, is sent to the Islamic Republic of France to track down a leftover nuclear arsenal and avoid a repeat conflict. While in France, Anderson is betrayed by a group of traitorous American politicians and is basically left for dead; in response, Anderson returns to the US and methodically plots his revenge.

The first half of the novel is, shall we say, a teensy bit over-the-top. Do I discount the possibility that a few schmucks in Washington would act against their own country's interest for the sake of personal gain? Hell no -- but the antagonists here are so craven - so EEEEEEEVIL with a capital E - that it unfortunately limits the plot's ability to reach audiences beyond those who are already convinced of the shadiness of our elite political class. Also: shoving pork into a Muslim assailant's mouth? That's laying the cheese on a bit thick.

As I suggested above, though, the authors dial things back substantially once Anderson is exiled to San Francisco -- which, in the wake of the April Fool's War, most of the world has written off as a loss. Here, the story becomes more human in scale as we see the discarded and abandoned try to survive and makes lives for themselves. Anderson himself becomes a more conflicted character, his violence more measured, and the people around him demonstrate the importance of maintaining a civil society that is independent of the government -- especially when the world has turned to Thunderdome around you.

Winterborn, ultimately, is a flawed but relatively entertaining work that should appeal to fans of conservative political thrillers. Depending on your tastes, you may want to take a look.

Final Verdict: Basically Liked, But... Your Mileage May Vary


  1. This review reads as though you don't like dystopian fiction. Should you have reviewed such a work if that is the case? Readers who do like that genre can't get an accurate review if you can't separate it from your subjectivity.

  2. Jason, she reviews many different genres and does a very good job at balancing taste with the objective assessment of quality that is necessary. In this case, I'd been unable to get into the book, the first part, as she says, is rather overdone, and overwrought. That's not a dislike of dystopia, it's more 'trying too hard' on the part of the author. I'd about given up on it, but if Steph was able to enjoy the second half, I'll keep working on the book.

    As a side note, I will say that not every reader will click with every reviewer. Rather than attack the reviewer's ability to assess a work, try looking for a reviewer whose taste aligns with yours.

  3. I assure you...she loves dystopian stories...that isn't the problem