Jack’s life is adventurous, that’s for certain. As an FISA agent living in Danger City, where superheroes and supervillains decimate the landscape and put normal, all-too-mortal people in danger, just walking his dog can lead to life or death situations. Such as when he sees two men in an alley trying to kill each other. Both of them are super human, based on their speed and violence, and one of them is a fellow FISA agent. Which means, of course, Jack has to do something. Armed with only a corgi and a tranq gun (and his mouth), Jack does what he can.
Which is shooting the assassin with several tranquilizer darts and hoping they kick in before the super— er, villain? Thug? Assassin? — kicks him. Now, he’s left with a pissy agent, an unconscious man, his corgi, and all the good intentions in the world.
This story, the first in the FISA Agents series, is an alternate Liquid Onyx series universe. The author uses names and personalities from other series (such as Damon and Rexly), but they are in a different world with slightly different jobs and in slightly different arrangements. You don’t have to have read the Liquid Onyx books to read this one, and you won’t need to read FISA Agents books to understand the Liquid Onyx stories.
Leo is a sassy, snarky, extraverted, and oh-so-friendly guy who offers up a lot of info dumps to explain the world, his relationship with his mother, with his aunt, with his agency, and how the Liquid Onyx serum works in this book. Much like the other series, children exposed to it are given super human abilities and black blood. FISA, the agency Leo works with, is trying to find and free the Liquid Onyx children from any nefarious imprisonment or conditioning and trying to bring them to the side of light and justice. Leo buys the party line without needing any bait on the hook, helped by the fact that his aunt is the director. He doesn’t ask questions, always believes people are good first and hurting second, and has no sense of self-preservation or second thoughts. He’s impulsive, he’s feckless, and he trusts in the universe to keep him safe. So far it has.
Jack is — was — a twin. He and his brother were taken in by Obsidian Inc, tested, trained, and turned into killing machines. He’s never not lived in an institution with the knowledge that his handlers want him dead and pray for him to make a move so they can kill him. With the loss of his twin, it’s not like he Jack anything to live for, anyway. And then he meets Leo and sees someone new to obsess over, someone with the same incandescent energy of his twin, but focused on light and joy rather than rage and hatred. So Jack makes a choice to work with FISA, so long as he can work with Leo.
The author has a very distinctive voice. It’s obnoxiously bright and cheerful, with so many 4th wall breaks and lots of finger snapping sass and manic pixie dream twink energy. Leo sounds just like Rexly, but without any of the layers of depth Rexly was given through two books. Instead, Leo is all surface, unless he has to deal with his mother, which is a bummer. Then he’s back to being the brightest ball of surface-level sunshine. And that’s fine. Just because I didn’t care for the character doesn’t make him a bad character.
Jack’s chapters were broken, choppy, and showed a distinctive voice. Jack was introspection and grief, insecurity and pathos. It was an interesting character and an interesting writing style … until he met Leo and then Jack’s voice was entirely subsumed beneath the sass, the snark, and the smoking, snarky comebacks, and I didn’t care for it. Jack went from a character to feeling like another shade of Leo. While this isn’t a bad book — the writing is solid, the book ends on a cliffhanger ready to pick up with a different character’s storyline — I just get tired of the same voice, the same vibe, the same personality feeling spread over every single character.