Life was good for New Yorker Cindy Ames. Sure, her husband’s top secret weapons projects were a little… weird, but at least her career as a gymnastics instructor didn’t involve any covert government contracts. Cindy’s life was peaceful. That is until she snuck into her husband Jonas’ lab after hours. What began as an innocent curiosity catapults her life into an exciting thrill ride, as Cindy accidentally merges with Jonas’ prototype nanosuit. Like a teenager stealing her parents’ car for the night, Cindy becomes an armored super heroine known as The Silver Ninja or so she thought... She soon discovers that the suit is not at all what it appears to be. As it secretly blurs the line between good and evil, Cindy unknowingly becomes more aggressive, violent and apathetic to the world around her.
Cindy becomes her own worst enemy as she plummets into a downward spiral of psychological oblivion. To make matters worse, she must prevent a violent coup d'état from erupting in New York City. Cindy will have to suit up and fight through an avalanche of futuristic weaponry to stop more innocent lives from being lost. But can she overcome her personal demons before becoming the villain? Will Cindy be able to save herself in time to save her family?
I've got to start with the obvious here, the cover art. It's not often I see a self-published novel with such eye-catching artwork, and Luna scores a big initial win on that front. Shallow though it may well be, covers sell books, and this is one that I would definitely pick up. Now, obviously it holds a certain appeal for the male audience! but as a female fan of both The Terminator and The Silver Surfer, I'd merrily put this one in my basket without much of a second thought.
The cover also does a good job of setting the tone for the novel. What you see is essentially what you get here, which is always refreshing. Fans of comic book superheroes and big screen futuristic blockbusters will, I'm sure, enjoy The Silver Ninja. Reading this one is essentially like watching a Superhero film; it's fast-paced and action-packed and doesn't require a huge amount of brain power. It's entertainment, pure and simple.
The strange thing with Superhero/Superpower style stories, is that they often don't tend to work well in novel form. They're naturally much more the stuff of graphic novels, because obviously they're hugely visual, and this is where they have the greater impact. This is a trend that's starting to be bucked at the moment though, with the likes of Adam Christopher and Peter Clines both notably putting Superheroes firmly and cleverly into prose. And Luna joins them here in making a damn good job of it.
I loved The Silver Ninja. I had a lot of fun reading it, and although a hefty dose of suspension of disbelief is required at all times, this doesn't stop me enjoying the big Marvel Blockbusters so why should it stop me enjoying a novel? It would be unfair to approach the two with different mindsets I think. There were times when I found it hard to justify decisions that the protagonist here made, Luna consistently offers reasoning behind everything that Cindy does, but in some cases it's very, very thin reasoning that you wouldn't want to lean on too much. Oddly it wasn't the technology here, but the simple human responses and reactions that tested my belief. It didn't impact too seriously on my ability to enjoy the story though, there was too much going on for me to spend too long at any one point wondering "why?".
I thought that Cindy was a fantastic female protagonist. I really enjoyed the journey Luna sent her on, and I could personally identify so much with her reaction to the 'incident' on her way home (I don't want to go all spoilery if I can possibly help it). It's that moment when something happens that makes you realise you're not invincible, and that you're living in a world with some genuinely vile people in it. I think that's a moment that a lot of readers, perhaps female readers especially, will identify strongly with. It was great to see so many sides to her; the wit and banter between her and her Sister ("'roid rage" had me chuckling), the physical strength, the emotional frailty, the intense curiosity, and, essentially, the bravery and determination she displays. I thought the back story reveal was very nicely done, and her issues with food were, again, something so powerful in terms of connecting with readers and really showing us who she is and what she deals with internally. It's not often in SF I've seen a male writer write a female character so skilfully.
With regard to the military/government element, I don't want to keep reducing things down to 'Comic Book' material, but anyone familiar with the corrupt officials of many a popular comic book City will be perfectly at home here. I don't know that Luna brought much that's original to the table in this respect, but I'm not complaining in the slightest because I was enjoying a fully three dimensional female lead so much that I was glued to the pages regardless. There was no way I was going anywhere.
One thing Luna is remarkably good at is leaving little markers throughout the novel that tie beautifully into later elements of the story. It shows a genuinely well-considered, well-structured plot, and is one way in which he shows me as a writer that he knows exactly what he's doing. My only disappointment was that at one point I think he put in a single marker too many, in relation to Ruby, which took the edge of the Big Twist at the end a little for me. I don't mean to be all mysterious and coy, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet.
Stylistically, Luna's writing is a little unpolished. He's very heavy handed with his similes, they are everywhere! For the most part they tended to be original and really quite impressive, there are some real gems! but there were just so many of them that they lost their impact. I would love to see him limit himself in his next book, to, say...no more than 10..just pick your absolute favourites and then let us enjoy them without having to wade through them. I found his tenses got a little mixed at times, and his phrasing, whilst mostly good could occasionally get clumsy and stilted. For a debut novel though, the writing was solid, and his pacing and engagement was impressive. If he does indulge in a second novel, which I'm hoping for from the end of this one, I would expect to a lot of these minor niggles to be ironed out.
Overall? This is definitely a title I would recommend. It's light, and fast, but it has some unexpectedly complex themes which give it a depth you might not be expecting. Well worth a read.