I was very happy to see a follow up to ‘Junkyard Cats’ which I enjoyed tremendously. The action carries straight on from the last book, with just enough backstory to let someone who hadn’t read the first book keep up (I don’t recommend it. Why do yourself out of reading a book that was as fresh, engergetic and fun as ‘Junkyard Cats’?).
Like its predecessor, ‘Junkyard Bargain’ is a fun, fast-paced, shoot ’em up tale with some intriguing world-building stirred into the mix. This time we get beyond the gates of Smith’s Scrapyard and engage the post -World War III, post-bug invasion version of the US where Virginia is a desert and everyone is short on resources.
Shining Smith, a woman who is no longer entirely human and who is infected with nanobots that make the people she touches into thralls who are keen to serve and please her, is gathering weapons and allies to go after the woman who attacked Smith’s Scrapyard in the first book and to rescue someone the woman is holding hostage.
So, we have an against-the-odds mission to acquire a super-weapon, find her arch-enemy’s nest. On Shining Smith’s side we have her fast-than human thralls, a sassy AI who has given herself the personality of a Southern Belle plucked straight form fiction, a spider-shaped cyborg who used to be a starship captain and telepathic people-hunting cats. We also have stolen alien tech and lots and lots and lots of guns. Up against Shining, have violent sex-slave-camp-running gang to fight, tricky traders to deal with and the local Motorcycle Gang to negotiate with.
This is an action-packed tale, with a huge bodycount, lustful descriptions of advanced weaponry and armour, great fight scenes and some of the scariest cats in fiction.
There are moments of reflection, when Shining struggles with her guilt over making thralls and then with her surprise and disappointment when they act autonomously and do things behind her back.
For the most part, what we have is a well-designed rollercoaster that delivers thrills every time the plot crests.
This is a transitional book. Shining doesn’t get to fight her arch-enemy yet BUT she gains weapons and allies, adds a few problems and future liabilities and gets a close up and personal reminders of the nastiness she’s going to war against.
I’m already looking forward to having Khristine Hvam read the next book to me.