Review: RUBICON by J.S. Dewes

Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 480
Release Date: March 28th, 2023
Series: Standalone
Rating: 5/5 Stars – Loved It!


For years, Sergeant Adriene Valero has been fighting a war without end against sentient machines, where death only means waking in a new body and being redeployed to the field. After the trauma of ninety-six deaths, Valero barely cares about anything anymore, but a new posting to a covert special forces unit brings a faint bit of hope. Outfitted with the best weapons, armor and a high tech virtual intelligence, Valero may actually go a few months between deaths. But when Valero’s VI evolves into an illegal AI, she discovers that she could be the key to ending the war once and for all.

RUBICON is a kinetic sci-fi adventure, one full of explosive action and emotional resonance. From the very first chapter, I knew I was going to love this book. Dewes is skilled at tense fight sequences, ones that feel practically cinematic in their presentation. She has done a fantastic job of weaving futuristic tech into combat operations, with soldiers taking advantage of everything from mechanized suits to VI to telemetries of every kind.

But the author doesn’t let the action overwhelm the story. There’s plenty of time to breath in between sequences, with a significant storyline going to just how traumatic it is to die over and over and OVER again. When we meet Valero at the beginning, she is completely disconnected from the world, because numbing the emotional pain is the only way to go on. Learning to process that trauma and pain so that she can open up again is just as important to the story as finding an end to the war is.

To that end, Dewes also brings back her signature hint of mystery to this sci-fi adventure. In between all the fighting, there’s that central question of why the machines are even attacking to begin with. These machines are not human in origin, so who created them and why? As this is a standalone, you won’t get a huge sweeping space opera, but you will get a self-contained snippet of the galaxy that I found wholly satisfying on its own.

RUBICON is a perfect cocktail of action, mystery, and character, and it has cemented J.S. Dewes as an autobuy author for me. Simply put, if you are a fan of fast-paced sci-fi, you need RUBICON on your list, followed by the rest of the Dewes’s books.

Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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