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S. L. Huang's "urban SF" novel Zero Sum Game is one hell of an adrenaline rush, with one of the most unusual anti-hero protagonists I've ever encountered in superpowered math genius mercenary Cas Russell. Seriously, this is great stuff. I had to finish it in one sitting and now I feel compelled to read the next two books in the series.

So... Cas Russell is a mercenary. She works well outside the law, she is ultra deadly with hands, feet, guns, and just about everything else. Her specialty is retrievals - people hire her to bring their stuff back.

But when Cas accepts a job to retrieve Courtney Polk from a drug cartel, her entire life goes to hell in a handbasket. Because nothing about this job is what she thinks it is, not even her own thoughts.

The body count is extreme, and the violence is often graphic. But at the same time, this is a very thoughtful book that addresses questions of agency, free will, morality, and the age-old question of whether the ends ever justify the means. You just don't notice the thinky bits in the middle of all that adrenaline until they smack you in the face.


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