The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell

The perfect business model: use criminals as labor to mine the galaxy’s most powerful source of energy. Mammoth “crawlers” filled with prisoners set out over the surface of a split planet, half arctic-cold and half fire-scorched with only a sliver of habitable land in between. A place called The Razor.

Populated by gangs, corrupt officials, and the few who haven’t slid yet, there is much more to this planet than a mining facility. Dark sites. Experiments. Black markets. Corporate greed. A frankenstein trying to piece together his past. A killer looking for redemption. A failed, yet remorseful trial physician. An innocent man framed for his ambitions.

“Complications were ensuing, as they inevitable would.”

From arrival to intake to escape to evacuation of the entire planet, the characters are quickly in a race against time. With every orbit, The Razor is breaking up. Lawless takes over and time keeps making escape a slim possibility.

Mitchell’s characters don’t fall into the prison-story stereotypes. Their backstories are decently fleshed out and realistic relationships are built.  The pacing of the book can be described as having a sort of chase-catch rhythm, and some of the tech explanations may be a little vague.

Overall, it falls in between the run-and-gun scifi prison story, and the in-depth techno-thriller. Just too many things forced into this one. The reveals were more head-scratchers than aha moments.

3 out of 5 stars

Releases on November 27th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for the advanced copy for review.

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