4 out of 4 stars
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Dr. Caitlyn Svendsen consoled herself with the certainty that she would be dead in less than an hour. Hanging from her restraints, Caitlyn had severe cuts along her wrists, which slightly missed her brachial artery but were still deep enough. Just two weeks earlier, she was the most beloved and respected oncology surgeon in America. Now, her country was falling apart and under attack by an unusual alliance of nations, yet her captor and attacker was her very government. For years, her wit and knowledge tormented her. She watched as humanity crumbled at the expense of economic gain and war changed to a biological and agricultural one. Her father always told her, ‘Hunger is the worst kind of infection, spreading from the stomach to the brain, eventually corrupting even the healthiest minds.’
Sixteen years back, Caitlyn and the world witnessed a famine of global proportions. The soil and climate could not support any plant, animal, or insect life. Everyone was unprepared, no answers came, and panic ensued. Caitlyn’s father was resilient and innovative; he found secret ways to survive and kept Caitlyn healthy, equally resilient, and witty. Her inquisitive nature led her to research their predicament, the origin of the famine, and the supposed miracle solution. Her knowledge made her a target for several countries desperate to save their populations. She now accepted death and was ready to leave the miserable world. However, fate had more for her, and she still had to find answers. At the back of her mind was one word, Phantom X.
Operation Black Horse opens up with a desperate world where adults fight children for food, making it instantly captivating. Each character has distinct physical and personality traits, making them realistic and easy to see and even hear their makers like accents. The setup of the scenes is impeccable. N. J. Gervasi does an excellent job in bringing out desperate scenes of hunger and despair, heart-wrenching situations like the torture of Caitlyn’s parents, and heavy technological and military setups like the research labs. The use of similes and metaphors also make for an enjoyable read, like when the author describes Caitlyn’s father as a perfect reflection of the land, both of them ghosts of their prime years.
The flow of information and unfolding of each detail is my favorite aspect of the book. Gervasi creatively reveals information about characters in between tense situations, creating a constant atmosphere of suspense and intrigue. The character introduction is also excellent, and it is entertaining to see two seemingly unrelated people meet and merge into one storyline. I did not find anything to dislike about the book; in fact, the chapter headings provide a precise timeline of events from the year August 7, 2026, to January 2, 2042.
I noted only one grammatical error, a testament to the book’s professional editing. The military and scientific language employed is intelligible and easy to understand. However, there are numerous cases of profanities, brutal torture scenes, and human suffering and experiments. I recommend sensitive and young readers to take precautions. Operation Black Horse gives life to the words, ‘Doom has a human heartbeat. We are nothing but flesh, blood, and destruction.’ It highlights a story where hope and despair collide, and the benefit of the few outweighs the suffering of many. The conclusion also sets the scene for a new kind of war, with new dynamics. It deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to readers with an inquisitive mind, ready to uncover the primal side of humanity and experience intense, unexpected love.
Operation Black Horse
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