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Reviewed by Steven Robson for Readers' Favorite
The Enigma Beyond, Book 11 in the Enigma Series by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey takes place in a world where 9 billion humans walk an imperceptible tightrope between freedom and enslavement; a boundary etched by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is a time of incredible complexity, where powerful supercomputers are guided by equally powerful people of influence; those driven by the desire for world domination and enslavement, opposed by those with moral substance, fighting for the freedoms we all value. Leading the despots in their quest is M, a shadowy human cloaked in darkness, who has corrupted an orbiting supercomputer AI called Joan to do his bidding. As plots within plots unfold, we are left with an ever-increasing unease, knowing a chilling climax awaits.
Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s The Enigma Beyond is a well-compiled story that will embrace you in its incredibly rich and diverse world. I found the characters to be believable, and quite relevant to what the human race has always encompassed; power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The subplots were entertaining and were quite capable of standing in their own right as short stories, especially the adventure in Brazil and the Chinese development of their CHIANG supercomputer. There were also cleverly managed levels of coercion, like those surrounding Wendy and her treatment, leading Tanja along the compliance path. The Enigma Beyond is, as the name suggests, a disturbing portent of an uncertain future.
The Enigma Beyond audiobook was narrated by Mr. Derek Shoales, a highly experienced narrator, who clearly demonstrated his craft in this version; no other effects were utilized. His voice carried unmatched clarity, with pronunciation precise and tailored to specific characters; he was able to cater to alterations in both gender and nationality smoothly and without confusion through tonal changes and use of accents. Moreover, I found the level of emotional variations applied by Mr. Shoales to be spot on. When excitement, fear, or any other feelings had to be conveyed, he had no trouble projecting these through his voice, making this audio experience one of pure enjoyment.