Science Fiction

The Hermes Protocol by Chris M. Arnone (ARC Review)

Thanks to Bookish First for my copy of The Hermes Protocol.  If I hadn’t used points to claim this book I wouldn’t have read past the first chapter. I just utterly disliked it. I took some time to think about whether I disliked it due to personal bias regarding pronoun pandering and the book’s ridiculous level of PC content including a drawn out m/m sex scene in chapter one, but no, this is just not a good book.

Let’s look at the book info and my remaining thoughts.

Bookish quick facts:
  • Title: The Hermes Protocol
  • Series: —
  • Author: Chris M. Arnone
  • Publisher & Release: Castle Bridge Media, January 2023
  • Length: 300 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐ there is probably a niche audience for this but it’s not the sci-fi crowd
Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

Hello? Who are you? Where am I?”

Elise Corto-Intel is an Intel Operative sent on what should have been a routine job to break into a luxury high-rise, crack open a safe, and take what’s inside. But as soon as she touches the tiny microchip, a voice crackles to life in her comms revealing an artificial intelligence named Bastion. In a city-spanning adventure, they must work together in a race against the clock to recover Bastion’s stolen chip, escape from a maniacal hitwoman, and untangle the web of players chasing this illegal artificial intelligence before Elise is terminated from the Corto Corporation, her employer that is also her home, family, and her life.

Chris Arnone’s work of cyberpunk science fiction, THE HERMES PROTOCOL, follows an intelligence operative with cybernetic enhancements as she races through the futuristic otherworldly Jayu City, on a mission that challenges her ideas of family, loyalty, and what defines life itself

My thoughts:

Unfortunately I didn’t read the entire excerpt before requesting this book. I got as far as the cover and being a cyberpunk fan said: “oh cool, this looks awesome”.  Erk, well that’s why I finished it.

The one thing I’ll give Arnone credit for is not lecturing us regarding gender, identity, and whatnot. He hyperfixates on pronouns and confuses me with “they” and does a lot of other things that I don’t want to read about, but at no point does he lecture, which is how he earned two stars.

Besides that, I just didn’t like the book.  The AI gives away it’s entire game as soon as we meet it, so that there’s nothing to build on throughout the text.  I kept wondering what else would be built on the AI & ethics storyline, and the answer is nothing, all the way through to the anticlimactic ending.

The action throughout wasn’t that bad and the book was fast paced, but you can’t convince me that the characters are in danger when they’re more worried about pronouns than the danger.  The action scenes are fairly decent though.

There’s also a bit of a mystery storyline. Who hired who? Who wants the AI chip? Who is this mysterious person?  Looking forward to some epic twist, I was disappointed because the book gave some half assed answer to the who & why, then magically resolved everything.  There are hints at future complications but that does nothing for the story’s current resolution.

Lastly, another issue throughout is that (one would assume) the main character is supposed to be a pretty decent intelligence operative? For all the mishaps, fails, forgetting of situational protocol, not being able to fight, and other flops… I just never got the impression that Elise was good at her job.  She should be able to seduce someone. She shouldn’t gawk when she’s impersonating security. In every single situation she seemed like a crappy operative.

Overall, even though I’ve thoroughly examined the fact that I might just dislike this book because of the content, the truth is that it’s just not as good as a lot of other cyberpunk that I’ve read.  It’s PC Mr Potato Head with these cybernetic limbs and while there are some cool aspects, overall I can’t recommend The Hermes Protocol. (Oh, and for all of the stress related to the protocol, it magically became not a big deal at the end).

Thanks for checking out my book review of The Hermes Protocol by Chris M. Arnone.  I claimed my copy through my Bookish First points, and thank the website and publisher for my arc in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own ♥️