Book Review: Deus Ex: Icarus Effect

Too close to the sun.

If you will indulge me I would like to start this review by briefly telling you the tale of Icarus. The son of the master craftsman, Daedalus, he was gifted a pair of wings constructed from feathers and wax in a bid to escape his prison in Crete. The caveat that came was these wings were simple; don’t fly too close to the sun, or the sea. Unfortunately Icarus was so overcome with the thrill of flying that he did indeed venture too close to the sun, which melted the wax on his wings, sending him plummeting to his death.

[boxout]It’s this theme that runs throughout Icarus Effect. It’s the year 2027, and humans are able to buy physical augmentations for themselves, in essence creating an evolution of the species. Greater strength, more stamina, better eyesight; these are just a taster of what you can have, providing your bank account is large enough or you work for the government. There are powerful groups out there that fear that these upgraded humans will be harder to control and manipulate, that they are flying too close to the sun despite being warned, and they need to be brought back down to earth. Achieving this won’t be easy though, and will require terrible acts to be carried out…

Thirty pages into the book and already things have turned sour for the two main protagonists. Secret Service agent Anna Kelso is on a routine mission escorting senator Skyler, not the world’s biggest fan of augmentation, to a business meeting when the convoy is attacked by a ruthless, extremely well trained unit who are heavily augmented. Severely injured, she has to watch as her friend and mentor is killed in cold blood; but who was the real target?

On the other side of the world Ben Saxon, squad leader of Strike Team Six, is in transport to be dropped behind enemy lines as part of ‘Operation Rainbird’. This operation doesn’t even get started though, as the plane is attacked by a series of unmanned drones. All but one of his team die in the crash, with the survivor then being cut to ribbons by the drone’s high caliber rounds as Saxon watches on, helpless. Showing true grit, Saxon survives and regains consciousness in an unknown location with a shadowy figure watching over him. The Intel said the area was free from drones, and Belltower Intel is never wrong – unless someone has falsified it.

These events see both Kelso and Saxon recruited into opposing factions in a struggle for power that goes far beyond any Government. Things are not as clear cut as they seem though, and it soon becomes clear that they are but puppets for an unseen master who lurks in the background.

I really enjoyed Deus Ex: Icarus Effect. Despite precious little in the way of background information, you feel yourself drawn to both Kelso and Saxon. Although augmented, they fight for a very human cause, which distinguishes them from the enemies they face. Speaking of enemies, they are a sinister and unpredictable bunch so there is always an air of tension about them. Unfortunately the revelation of the overall ‘bad guy’ let me feeling slightly cold, mainly because this particular group has had so much exposure over recent years.

The ending also felt a little ‘loose’. Whilst I knew that not everything would be resolved in the book (I’m expecting the warring factions to carry over into Deus Ex: Human Revolution), I felt ever so slightly dissatisfied when I had finished the last page. Perhaps that is because we have been brought up on a diet of films and books that have nice, tidy conclusions. There is also a ‘blink and you miss it’ mention of Human Revolution’s lead character, Adam Jensen, as you find out how he becomes so badly injured at the start of the game.

Pros

  • Engaging characters
  • Augmentations add an interesting twist
  • A good read

Cons

  • Unsatisfying ending
  • Disappointing overall bad guy

Overall Icarus Effect is a fine read that will see fans of the sci-fi genre up until the wee hours in an effort to find out what happens next. If anything I am now even more pumped for the game.

Score: 8/10

7 Comments

  1. So overall, a decent purchase if you’re a book lover, but it flies too close to the sun at the end.

  2. I was jealous when you got this but I have got a shelf and a half of books stretching back to Xmas two years ago that I still need to read… Still, tempted!

    • I hear not playing games helps.:P I can’t remeber the last time i read a book. Blasted PS3 has prevented me from reading books.

  3. Love the current influx of gaming fiction… Titan sent me the Homefront and Dead Space books to put onto my own site and they were both really good, Homefront especially. Good to see this one is just as enjoyable too!

  4. Walked past this in Waterstones today, went to WHSmiths and bought NEO and “Wolverine and Deadpool” instead

  5. Sounds good and it might be a nice way to ease myself into the world of Deus-Ex before the main event.

  6. Does this mean there will be reviews on game related books?:D

    It does sound like it is worth a read. But have too much things to do(read playing games and haunting TSA:P)

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