Review by Ardy Hart
When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of action movies. I liked watching things explode, I liked those near-death experiences the main character would go through, I liked the crushing hope followed by those last-minute decisions that saved the day. And man, I got so much of that while reading Crossroads. It was exciting and thrilling. and every character had a part to play in being a hero. The scenes in the book played in my head like an action movie, and many of them were vivid enough to let me almost reach out and touch them.
Crossroads is the second book in the GENMOS series. Having not read the first one, I was a little worried about not knowing what was happening, but Stephen Coghlan did a great job of peppering in small amounts of background information that allowed me to understand the position these genetically modified people find themselves in. In this world, there are humans, and there are Genmos. Genmos are genetically modified humans that have turned partly into anthropomorphic animals. Not only that, but each one has a special ability or two that allows them to fight. They’ll need these abilities if they hope to bring down the evil agency that’s trying to kill them.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* The book starts off with half of the Genmos wanting to get revenge for what happened in the previous book. Against their “father’s” wishes, they infiltrate the agency’s HQ and corrupt their database. Hearing word of their stupid plan from one of his children, the symbolic father figure of the Genmos, Devlin, brings some of the others to help rescue the first group. Barely getting out of there alive, Devlin and his children escape to a new hideout where they try to live a peaceful, hidden life away from society. The group finds Brent Ives, a former evil agent, in their old house when looking for supplies, except he’s broken and mangled—a result of an incomplete Genmos process. Upon seeing him, Devlin is forced to make a choice: either go against his promise and complete the Genmos process again, or leave Ives there to suffer a painful death. Going with the former, Devlin brings Ives back to their hideout and saves him against some of the Genmos’ wishes. When he awakes, Ives is not himself. He’s a cat! And with the bodily change comes an attitude change. Ives—now known as Ibi—rejects his former life as an agent and swears his loyalty to helping the other Genmos. What they don’t know is that this is all according to the agency’s plan…
After they find the Genmos’ hideout and capture some of them, an agent named Ghost—who’s also a tiger Genmos—and the rest of the agency torture Devlin into giving them the rest of the Genmos process. It’s up to the remaining Genmos to rescue their father and siblings and stop the process plans from falling into the wrong hands, or paws. *SPOILERS CONCLUDED*
My main concern with reading this novel was that I wouldn’t understand the gravity of the characters’ situations. As expressed in the previous paragraphs, this was not the case, and I applaud Coghlan for giving just the right amount of explanation in the beginning chapters. With that worry out of the way, I greatly enjoyed this book. It was fun, it was dangerous, and it was very entertaining.
One of the main strengths of this book was the action. It seemed very clear to me as a reader that the author knew they wanted to make an action book that balanced well with the fantasy genre, and that came across strong. The action scenes were strong and well-written. They were clear and decisive, and they did a good job heightening or lowering the growing tension throughout the novel. There were a few places where I got confused as to what was happening, but they didn’t distract me too much.
The plot was pretty simple, which I also felt was a good thing. A book like this doesn’t need a complicated plot to be entertaining. However, I did feel like nothing really got accomplished. There seemed to be a few loose threads that remained from the first book, like Siren and Milan not knowing if their dad was alive. That question gets answered at the end of the book, which is a nice closing point. But that’s about all the ending does. It’s an answer to a question that I didn’t really know was there at the start. Reading only book two, I was more concerned with how this ragtag group of furries was going to stop the evil agency, and the story gets really close to answering that question, but it never quite closes it off. I’m assuming this is to leave room for a book three, but there wasn’t really another sub-plot for me to focus on, so this story just kind of...fell off a cliff at the end.
I did really enjoy the characters though. I can imagine it’s really difficult to write a story with so many characters wanting the spotlight, but Coghlan balanced it out really well, especially in the action scenes. I felt like I got a decent view of each character, which is impressive when you consider that there are like, more than twenty characters in this story. I felt like every single one had a significant moment, and I really admire writers who can manage that.
This book would appeal to teens, young adults, adults, and really anyone who likes action stories. There are some extreme moments where reading it out loud to a kid might not be the best idea, but for the most part it’s an easy-to-read story that’ll keep you entertained.