After several months of hard training, the two women are dropped into Al-Raqqah, the capital of ISIS, in Syria. Once there, they must blend in with the locals as they strike from the shadows to kill ISIS leaders, destroy their facilities, and free captives. As Americans deep within enemy territory, they know that they will be killed if discovered. As women, they also know that they would suffer before death. Walking the line between vengeance and justice strains their relationship. As they work to resolve their differences, the symphony of brutality around them ultimately pushes them closer together and forges them into the warriors that they were meant to become.
Read the first three chapters of The Azrael Initiative.
The author deserves kudos for having the nerve to tackle such a thorny subject. It would have been easier to set the book in an alternate world or create a fictional enemy but he didn't take the easy road and I do admire that. However this caused a bit of an issue for me. Kayla and Olivia are basically recruited as child soliders and trained/brainwashed to blindly attack the enemy they're pointed at. Kind of like ISIS then? The problem is, they're guilty of exactly the same thing they're trying to prevent. Their own overseer outright states that "our agents will work to instill fear in ISIS using any means necessary." So, become terrorsits themselves? Kayla deals with terrorists killing her family by going out and killing terrorists, who presumably have families of their own. It's all very black and white, but this story really would have benefited from some shades of grey. One particular scene in which Kayla brutally stabs a suspected terrorist to death before remarking that people "like him" remind her of the people that killed her family, while straddling his still warm corpse, is staggeringly tone deaf.
This book definitely would have benefited from a stricter edit. There are countless surplus paragraphs and information that add nothing to the story that really should have been cut. On the whole though, this book was an entertaining read. Although the execution of the morally complex story wasn't faultless, I admire the author for not taking the easy road and I absolutely loved the strong female friendship between Kayla and Olivia.
K lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he works as a software developer. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing, he enjoys reading, working out, playing video games, and spending time with his wonderful fiancee, Bobbi. Some of his favorite authors are Tom Clancy, George R. R. Martin, and Sarah Maas.