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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
In Icarian by Rick Stepp-Bolling, Ka is a winged hybrid testing for inclusion in the Icarian Squadron. He has doubts as he abhors killing and fears heights. On the other hand, winning a place in this elite military squadron could mean a lot for his family's fortunes. His sister, born wingless, is pitied and despised as a freak and a misfit and his father is a damaged veteran who loses himself in narcotics to escape his pain. When Ka bonds with Lin, another recruit, he begins to question his commitment to the Empire and drifts towards new loyalties. But, with a ruthless new visitor to the Rookery, it's a bad time for second thoughts. Even worse, Ka seems to have attracted this newcomer's scrutiny and that cannot be a good thing.
I enjoyed the discovery of this fascinating society and its possibilities. Although the idea of a winged militia evokes thoughts of glory and heroism, the story is quick to delve into its underbelly and expose a darker side - its unquestioning commitment to violence and oppression and loyalty that only lasts as long as you are able to serve. That's the flip side to Rick Stepp-Bolling's Icarian. While the flyers were bred as mindless killers, characters like Ka, Mys, Lin, and even Seron demonstrate that military communities can evolve towards deeper introspection and self-awareness. Best of all, the story carries the reader to experience moments of true courage. There are multiple levels of realistic conflict - between generations and also between loyalties - leading to tense moments and a breathtaking climax. Despite being relatively short, this book packs a powerful punch in places. Icarian is part of the Patch Man series.