Foreword Reviews

APOK Derailed

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

APOK Derailed continues a blockbuster action trilogy with a sympathetic hero.

A broken soldier grapples with morality and global safety in Michael Walton’s explosive action thriller APOK Derailed.

Colonel Miguel Mejia has taken a scorched-earth policy, discovering, tracking down, and eliminating the members of a new terrorist organization, the Sons of Liberty. An explosion knocks him out of commission. When he wakes in a hospital with a voice in his head, he’s following a singular directive: assassinate the first elected leader of a worldwide government.

Mejia, code named APOK, undergoes a bizarre medical therapy procedure to recover and prepare for his mission. All the while, the voice in his head threatens his loved ones. APOK is trapped between completing his mission and becoming that which he has sworn to stop. If he fails, he risks losing everyone and everything. If he escapes, he might be able to fight his way out.

This is the second in the APOK trilogy. Enough context is given to fill in important information from the previous entry, but some aspects of APOK’s world are unexplained. APOK and other key characters are contextualized and built up well.

In this engaging future version of Earth, technology is advanced, but populations still struggle with poverty and crime. This opens space for the fledgling world government to step in, ostensibly to steer toward a less destructive path. Scenes are tense and highlight what APOK risks should he complete his assassination.

Though he is absent for most of the book, APOK anchors the narrative. While he’s in recovery, the stage is set for the election. The introduction of an ambitious news reporter, APOK’s shattered organization, and a shadowy cabal enacting plans keep the story moving as APOK struggles with his sanity. He is both a stoic action hero and a broken man, if more broken throughout; he’s interesting precisely because he isn’t perfect or immortal, and his failure feels likely.

Conversations are given over to forced-feeling swaths of exposition, as when a drunken gang discusses the state of the world as they’re catcalling a woman driver. Action scenes are more engaging: characters grapple with exploding buildings, bullets whizzing by, and grunts of exertion. In such scenes, powerful men slog through the melee all without needing to speak a word.

A series of punctuation marks delineate the passing of time, shifts in perspective, and sometimes both, but their use is difficult to track. This issue is less glaring in later sections. Several unwieldy narrative threads don’t contribute to the larger story arc, but the ending is neat and teases the final book of the trilogy well.

APOK Derailed continues a blockbuster action trilogy with a sympathetic hero.

Reviewed by John M. Murray

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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