Myke Cole's Gemini Cell was one of my favorite reads last year, so I was looking forward to Javelin Rain with a lot of excitement.
These two books comprise the opening gambit of a new trilogy that serves as a prequel to Cole's Shadow Ops series (which I haven't read, but since these are prequels they're as good as place as any to start, I think), and like a number of middle entries, Javelin Rain struggles as its own entity. It has to continue the story began in Gemini Cell of Jim Schweitzer, an undead SEAL who has been resurrected by a secret cabal within the US military, and picks up literally seconds after the last page of the prior book. It also has to tell a story that progresses the overarching narrative without providing too much in the way of resolution (because that's what book three in a trilogy is for!) while also serving as a satisfying entry in its own right.
Cole adheres to these points fairly solidly, but Javelin Rain gets a bogged down in its own elements. As a middle entry, it lacks the freshness of discovery the prior book possessed, and as a reader I'm no longer thrust into exciting, unfamiliar territory but instead get a lot of the same elements I was already familiar with. This book is basically Schwietzer On The Run In The Forest, and its a scenario that occupies a lot of pages. A side plot introduces Dadou, a new sorcerer inducted into the Gemini squad to kick up their capabilities a notch, and she's a pretty cool character tasked with working alongside Jawid, resident Binder of souls to corpses. There relationship helps make Jawid a more interesting character here as Cole explores the depth of his religious fervor and the mental brainwashing of his faith.
Mostly, though, this book just lacked the excitement and freshness I found in last year's novel. The action wasn't quite as exciting, although Cole delivers a few welcome surprises here and there and lays out enough details to inch us toward the big finish in book three. If Gemini Cell was great (and I thought it was), then Javelin Rain is merely good. It's readable, and leaves the characters in an interesting place, but it lacks energy. Still, I'm on-board for the long haul, even with slightly dampened enthusiasm.