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Jan 27 2017 10:30am

First Look: Rebecca Zanetti’s Justice Ascending (January 31, 2017)

Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti
Justice Ascending (The Scorpius Syndrome #3)
Zebra / January 31, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital 

Rebecca Zanetti’s latest novel in her dystopian Scorpius Syndrome series, Justice Ascending, features Tace Justice. Tace was a simple Good Old Boy from Texas and a former army medic. Tace expected to return to Texas some day and continue the family tradition of becoming a lawman. That was before the Scorpius bacteria wiped out most of the population and changed everything, and before the Scorpius infection changed Tace from a gregarious flirt to something so much darker.   

Most of those infected succumb to the high fevers and the bacteria’s attack on the brain. Survivors of the bacteria are never completely the same person they were before infection. Some are faster, stronger or smarter, but many lose a part of themselves, that part that makes them human. They lose the ability to have compassion and empathy since the bacteria attacks the frontal lobe of the brain. The damage done ranges from mild to severe and the worst of those fall into darkness and become Rippers. Rippers have dangerous psychopathic tendencies ranging from deranged to brilliantly cunning, but almost all have lost any interest in their fellow man.

Tace was infected with Scorpius when he was bitten by an infected patient. Tace survived the infection, but he feels himself losing his humanity and falling into the darkness.  He knows that his lack of emotion is all wrong, but simply can’t work up any concern for it other than knowing his friends might someday be forced to put him down like a mad dog. 

If Scorpius turns off emotions like a fountain, what happens when the spigot turns back on?

Tace is most concerned that even though his emotions seem to be turned off, he has had an increase in obsessive tendencies.  While his new OCD is annoying and frustrating, his biggest concern is that his interest in follow soldier Samantha Steel is becoming an obsession which he can’t control.  He needs to have her, but more disconcerting is how desperately he needs to protect her.   Sami is a soldier at Vanguard, a top Lieutenant and an accomplished fighter.  She is the one who has been training Tace in hand-to-hand, so why does he desperately need her to understand that he has to shield her?

“The old me?  The pre-Scorpius Texan good ole boy?  The one you could handle?”

“Yeah?” Finally, she let her temper free.  The man had no clue whom he was messing with.  She met his challenge and sank her teeth into his bottom lip.

His head jerked back.  “He’s almost gone.”  The growl that rumbled from him sounded much more animalistic than human.  Keeping her in his sights, he licked a dot of blood off the small wound.  “Stop challenging me, because I’m what’s left.”

Tace is also concerned about his growing desire for Sami. She caught his interest from the first day she arrived at the camp, but this sudden fixation might just be dangerous for both of them. After not feeling anything at all since he recovered, feeling something, even if all that emotion is solely focused on one person, should mean something. But it doesn’t necessarily mean something good. 

“Seriously, do you want to harm Sami in any way?”

“No.”

“Then why not explore your feelings?  Relax a little and stop fighting them, and perhaps you’ll stop obsessing.”

As advice went, it wasn’t horrible, but the doc had a definite romantic streak that was showing.  “What if it changes? I mean, I’m getting darker every day, and what if I end up wanting to wear her skin as a suit?”

Is Tace’s obsession with Sami a sign of his further descent into darkness or a tingle of his humanity returning?  Or it may just be a bit of both.

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti, available January 31, 2017:

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H&H Editor Picks:

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Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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