‘Junkyard War’ – Junkyard Cats #3 by Faith Hunter

Shining Smith and her crew have obtained the weapons they need to rescue one of their own from the grips of their mortal enemy, Clarisse Warhammer. But to mount an assault on her fortified bunker, they have to cobble together an army of fighters.

That could be the biggest battle of them all.

Shining will need to step back into the biker world she left behind to broker an uneasy peace, then lead rival factions into a certain death trap. Can Shining take Warhammer down without having to compel more and more people to do her bidding? And will her feline warriors, the junkyard cats, remain loyal and fight alongside her? Or will Shining have to become something and someone she hates, so that vengeance can finally be hers?

What can I say? I’m a fan and this was pure fan fare. Six hours of what mostly amounted to one long and bloody fight, preceded by some quirky negotiations. Mostly, with a description like that, I’d pass but this is Faith Hunter and she excels at this stuff.

It’s not just that her fight scenes are so vivid that they completely envelop me in the action, or that the technologies involved are scarily plausible or even that Khristine Hvam’s narration is a pleasure to listen to. It’s that, over the course of Junkyard Cats and Junkyard Bargain, Faith Hunter has gotten me so invested in the Shining Smith and her diverse crew that I need to know what happens to them and it needs to be something that pulls together everything from the previous two books and she knows how to satisfy the appetites she’s created.

OK, it’s a long battle scene, mostly. But there are highly intelligent Junkyard Cats with their own agenda and with the hierarchy and planning and communication skills to achieve it. There is an army of monster rats marching in lockstep and ready to eat Shining and her crew. There are not one but two AIs, one of which was built by aliens. There’s a deeply damaged man, now more cyborg than human, who struts through the battle in a towering, heavily armed warbot. There are people in thrall to Shining Smith because they’ve been infected by her nanobots and they will do anything to please her, whether she wants them to or not.

Then there is the way Shining Smith, who believes she’s not good at politics, forms an alliance amongst rival Motorcycle Clubs and gives them enough incentives not just to work together but to commit to destroying her enemy.

Finally, there’s Shining herself. A woman who has gained enormous power that she’d rather not have. A woman who doesn’t think she deserves to command but who shoulders the responsibility anyway. A woman set on revenge at any price. A woman who, nevertheless, regrets almost every kill she makes along the way.

Yeah, all of that was enough to keep my wheels spinning.

This might be the last Junkyard Cats book. It certainly brought an end to key story arcs but it also changed the game for both Shining Smith and the Junkyard Cats, offering up all kinds of future possibilities that I hope will entice Faith Hunter to deliver more of this series.

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