The Solid-State Shuffle by Jeffrey Ballard

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This is the continuation of a short story I read earlier this year: Underwater Restorations (that feels like so long ago but it was only a couple months!). Now we’re back with Isa, Puo, and Winn after their misadventures in the last story have led them to a new city. Enough background info is provided that you don’t need to read the first story but it is helpful if you do.

Almost a hundred years ago, a major terrestrial event reshaped the earth’s coastlines. Goodbye entire cities. Goodbye entire states. Goodbye entire countries. And when the authorities outlawed salvaging from these sunken sites, why say hello to a new breed of criminal: underwater reclamation specialists. Even a hundred years later, there’s still a whole lot of loot for the reclaiming.
But it’s not theft if you put it back, right?
After cracking an underwater vault in their first major heist in the Seattle Isles, Isa and her crew think they’re on easy street again—that is, if they can figure out what it is exactly they stole. A question, they soon learn, where their very lives hang in the balance.
Thrust into a high-stakes game of subterfuge and deception by the local mob boss, Isa and her crew must scramble to unravel the mystery of what is they stole while unseen forces move against them.  

This is a very cool story and much different than anything I’ve read before (besides the first story)! The old world is now submerged beneath the ocean and taken all its goods with it. That’s why Isa and her crew spend much of their time in the water, looking for riches that they can sell and live a comfortable life off of. But of course, life as a criminal does not come easy and the team has to face the wrath of the big boss as well as tensions among their members.

It was interesting and unique, and the tone smartly gets more serious for this book but it still felt like it kind of missed the mark somewhere. For one, I liked the characters better in the short story. Isa is written as a “strong female character” but the generic type and not as what it really should be “a realistic female character”, so there’s a lot of showy moments to prove she’s cut out for the team but which don’t really help to form a connection  between her and the reader. I’d also feel a lot better about the characters if the two in a relationship were closer in age, especially since Winn reads younger than he is and Isa older.

The story itself was well-written, and certainly set up the next adventure well. In this book, we get to see a little more of the criminal underworld and how it’s run, while also meeting some of the friendly folk who are far removed from criminal activity. It was a nice way to round out this world that the author has created.

Many more adventures are in store for this group and their seafaring adventures so there are a lot of books for you to enjoy. The Solid-State Shuffle comes out October 4th but you can pre-order it here.

Author links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review



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