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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
S.H.R.E.D.: Gorgon Rising by Stu Jones is the origin story of a new superhuman series revolving around a young Hawaiian environmental activist named Sasha and the night that changed her life and her body forever. The book begins with Sasha aggressively subverting Russian whalers in her family yacht, which sinks to the bottom of the sea alongside the hopes she had for the future. A night out with her friends finds Sasha on her surfboard surrounded by a pod of orcas, until a military installation falls from the sky, altering Sasha's DNA as she is dragged deeper into the ocean. She wakes on a beach, is taken, confined, and tested by the son of a war criminal masquerading as an ally. The first look of her body shows a woman-orca hybrid, with the power to crush and the determination to find her own way. Sasha's new purpose aligns more closely with another, and she comes up against foes she had expected and others she could not have imagined would become enemies, even in her worst nightmare.
It was the cover art and concept that immediately drew me to S.H.R.E.D.: Gorgon Rising by Stu Jones. The depiction is absolutely stunning. I'm happy to report that the story itself is incredible also. Sasha is a powerhouse character and I love how her personality and passion are immediately displayed in acts that a less generous reader would likely call eco-terrorism. She is blinded by rage and capable of recklessness, but the intent is so pure and just that one cannot help but cheer her on. Until she sinks your yacht. Jager comes across initially as the father-figure-slash-enabler, allowing Sasha to indulge in her base instincts. It turns out he's no father figure at all and has his own issues. The pacing and steady stream of tension are sublime. The writing is first-rate. The plot twists are shocking, and I am grateful for the artist renderings at the back of the book because one of the more spectacular non-Sasha revelations was difficult to visualize in my mind. This is a phenomenal book and I would give it a whole bucket full of stars if I could.