Searching for survivors in the dessert wasteland that used to be the southern United States isn’t easy but someone has to do it. Currently, that job falls to Randy, a human taken by the military and fitted with cybernetic implants to help him do his job. What seems to be a simple search and rescue mission, however, becomes more complicated when Randy finds himself the one in need of help. Preston has survived on his own for years, working to fulfill a promise that is becoming harder and harder to keep. While determined to remain in the south, the difficulty of his task and the lure of an easier life for his charges is tempting; the lure of Randy is even more so. When rescue comes will Preston give up the life he knows for the unexpected or will he give up the one person that seems to make life worth living? I love post-apocalyptic media; books, movies, video games, you name it and I am aaaallll over it. One of the most important things about an apocalypse book, in my opinion, is the believability. While you don’t actually find out what cause the apocalypse in this book, the setting and difficulties faced by the survivors was totally believable and I had no trouble delving into the world within the pages. The author’s writing allowed me to easily imagine what I was reading about and while the beginning seemed a little choppy as far as sentence structure was concerned, it quickly evened out into an easy, enjoyable read. Randy was interesting; you don’t find out a great many details about him but what he does say nonetheless allowed me enough insight into his character to figure out what makes him tick. Preston was easier to figure out as his entire existence seems to revolve around keeping a small group of refugees alive. This isn’t an extremely happy story and it isn’t meant to be. There’s death here (all off screen and in one instance, a child) that serves to illustrate just how harsh living there is and while there is some source of happiness and connection between the two main characters, it is by no means a fairytale ending. What the story lacks in perfect endings, however, it makes up for in the hope and new beginning awaiting both Preston and Randy. The story was definitely a happy for now but there is plenty of room to work towards that happily ever after in future books and this was a solid beginning. I liked it and look forward to seeing where the story goes from here.
Operation Wasteland, 1
After a great disaster that killed millions, the world turned a sweltering, deserted wasteland. Ten years later, hybrid droid Randy Hawkins is starting his fifth rescue mission for the Rescue and Reconnaissance Unit. In search of survivors, his assignment takes him farther south into America than he’s been before, wondering if anyone could still be alive in this desolate tract.
Someone is alive, and meeting lone survivor Preston turns his resolve upside down. Preston is a caretaker of his own group, keeping them alive no matter what, just like a strong, brave, and gorgeous leader would. Now Randy must decide: follow his mission strategy and persuade Preston to come back with him, or fall dangerously in love with the man, despite the chaos looming ahead.
Be Warned: m/m sex
I laid my jacket out on the table and took a deep breath. What a wild night. But Preston did have a good plan, I had to admit. If he could distill the rainwater, it would serve as perfectly good drinking water for him, and his survivors he was so adamant on protecting. Thunder continued to rumble outside. I wondered if the survivor camp was also getting the rain.
“It’s…” Preston gasped behind me.
I turned around briefly, suddenly realizing the air was hot in the bunker, drying the sticky sweat on my lower back—the area my equipment didn’t temperature regulate properly. Preston’s eyes were wide, staring at my machinery. I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking.
“Go ahead and say it.” I moved back to the table and situated the jacket, making sure the sleeves weren’t bunched up. “It’s disgusting, right?”
“No. It’s awesome.” His excited reply shocked me. “Can I touch it?”
I shrugged. “If you want.”
Footsteps sounded behind me. The warmth of his presence as he stood near made me tremble. His breath was heavy as he ran his fingers across the chrome metal parts of my outer forearm, but I couldn’t feel his touch. “It’s warm,” he whispered. He flattened his hand across what was my elbow and continued inching his way up to my shoulder.
“Of course it is.” The metal infused into my skin and joints was meant to imitate flesh as much as possible, while giving me necessary protection, though I wished I could feel his caress. The metal didn’t replicate touch.
I turned to face him, and he continued his exploration, grazing his fingers against the chrome metallic parts inserted into my chest. His hot breath whisked past my neck, teasing the small hairs there as he stepped around me. I tried to bite back the tremendous need his inspection was causing. The flush in my face grew each second.
Preston’s fingers caressed my naked neck. I closed my eyes and almost quaked as his fingers tickled the backside of my ear. “Nothing here?”
I shook my head. “Invisible. Chips inserted into the brain send messages pertaining to my missions.”
“Unbelievable. I’ve always wondered how you guys worked.” He moved to my back. Each time he touched my bare skin, I jolted. But his fingers always found another piece of metal, and the excitement wavered when I couldn’t feel him anymore.
I really wanted to love this book. I love hard-hitting dystopian novels and was excited to see it was a series. While I didn’t totally love the story I certainly didn’t hate it either. The author did a remarkable job of world building here, I will say that. She kept it fairly simple but fascinating at the same time. The world is a desert wasteland and its Randy Hawkins job to search for survivors. When he goes further than he ever has before he meets Preston, a survivor with his own small group of people. Randy’s goal is normally to find people to follow him back to civilization but Preston’s resolve and determination makes Randy question everything he’s known. This had a great rivals to lovers story between Preston and Randy here. I love the action of both the shoot-em-up kind and the smokin’ hot sex kind. The story sets up future books but was too short to really get into the heads of Randy and Preston. I’m certainly looking forward to the sequel.