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Years after the bombs of WWIII have changed the physical and political landscape, the Agency ruthlessly works behind the scenes to take down rebel groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means. Hsin Liu Vega (Sin) is their most efficient and deadly assassin ever. However, he tends to go off on unauthorized killing sprees and somehow his assigned partners all end up dead under suspicious circumstances. That is why the Agency has had him locked up in a box on the fourth floor for years. But now they think it is time to put the psychopath back in the field. With a new partner.
Boyd’s mother, a high ranking Agency official, volunteers her teenage son for the position. Boyd is not afraid of death. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair for the last few years that he’d welcome it.
Can these two broken men form an efficient partnership? Can they learn to trust anyone, let alone each other? Sin doesn’t give a fuck about the Agency, or the androgynous boy who holds the remote to the shock collar that is supposed to control him.
On the other hand, Boyd is strangely unafraid of the man everyone calls ‘monster’ and Sin seems reluctant to let his keeper get himself killed on any missions. Yet.
I’m still a fairly new’ish M/M reader. It’s been about a year for me immersed in the genre. I’ve found that I’m mostly drawn to sweet stories, fairy tales really, with happy endings. I love likable characters, try to avoid anything above a…3?…on the angst meter, and I consume books voraciously…probably 3-5 a week, which means I prefer the short, quick reads.
WHAT THE HELL was I doing reading “In the Company of Shadows”? …AND WHY SHOULD YOU?
My first ‘epic’ M/M series read was Special Forces by Voinov & Marquesate. It almost broke me. I felt so deeply and was so dramatically impacted that my boss even asked what was going on with me. I couldn’t function. I swore I’d never do it again.
So, when friends kept insisting I read ICoS, I just couldn’t do that to myself…to my life…to my heart! But, on the other hand, how could I NOT? I knew I was missing out (and I hate missing out!). And everyone just raved and raved and raved about it!
Finally, one day I saw this picture posted somewhere on Goodreads with the caption “Hsin Liu Vega”. Well helloooo, you! Hammer, nail, proverbial coffin.
My decision was made. DONE AND DONE.
ICoS is in a nutshell, an emotional marathon. If you do NOT have the stamina, don’t even try (but don’t sell yourself short either…if I can do, you can…trust me). It’s thousands and thousands and thousands of pages long over the course of 4 books. I planned on reading it during my Christmas vacation (7 days off devoted to hours of nothing but reading). I barely made a dent. It’s daunting. But it’s not just the size, it’s the world (dystopian’ish), the characters (there are quite a few and ALL memorable), and the loyal fanbase (everyone and their mothers jumped out of the woodwork to comment on my GR updates as I read).
AND IT’S WORTH IT.
The story centers around 2 MC’s, Boyd and Hsin and the cast of characters that come in and out of their lives and impact their growths as individuals and as a couple. There is lust, betrayal, heartache, assassinations, sex, political intrigue, dysfunction…and it’s all brilliant. You’ll find yourself engrossed in their lives and the loyalty of picking sides (Team Hsin for me…duh) rivals that of the Dan/Vadim teams of Special Forces.
I felt this read…DEEPLY. I was so impacted that I had dreams and nightmares, I woke up sore all over from grinding my teeth and tensing my muscles, I cried and cried and cried. I tried to pick up the pieces of my heart and then other times I couldn’t squeeee enough…a squee just wouldn’t cut it! I mourned, I screamed, I cursed the authors, I rejoiced, I had to resuscitate my heart on multiple occasions, and I even found myself waist-deep in fandom of this series amongst many as obsessed as I was (which I swore I’d never be “that girl”). I also, quite possibly, broke the exclamation point key on my laptop, I pounded on it so often while commenting about the book.
It honestly changed my life in many ways…and definitely changed the way I read. And I still feel it deeply any time discussions come up about the series.
This will put you through the ringer…and you’ll be so gloriously satisfied at the end. You’ll feel like you EARNED it…and you will have. And you’ll find yourself a part of a community that all “gets it”…we all understand, we’ve been there, and it’s a fellowship of sorts.
This series hurts. And it heals. And it leaves a mark. And you are missing out if you don’t give it a go. So, don’t miss out!
Here are some snippets on the reviews I did for each book as I completed them (and I’ve linked my full reviews for the separate books):
“Ultimately, it all came down to the strength of the characters. And though I became so connected to Hsin & Boyd that I had a myriad of emotional & physical reactions to their journey…it wasn’t just them. It was ALL of them… strong, interesting, haunting, sympathetic, annoying, aggravating, tender, attractive, fierce characters. And that’s what drives this book…that’s what makes you want to push through 1500 pages…to find out what happens to them…”
“This is torturous angst that rips you apart and skewers you and eats you alive and then spits you out and stomps on you and flicks you off its shoe into a vat of burning lava only to burn to a fiery death.
…Did I love it? No, I HATED it. Was it brilliant? OF COURSE IT WAS”
“I loved this book. What a treat.
Some of it was PAINFUL.
Some of it was INTRIGUING.
Some of it was BLISSFUL.
Some of it was HILARIOUS.
Some of it was INFURIATING.
Some of it was TWISTED.
Some of it was BEAUTIFUL.
And ALL of it was FANTASTIC”
“But, of course Sonny & Ais don’t know how to do anything half-assed. Fade has the TORTURE that you’ve come to sickly crave throughout this series. It also has the LOVE that you’ve come to root for through all the various couples in this series. It has some of the HOTTEST scenes I’ve ever read. And, more so than even in the other books…it had the BEST storyline…ridiculously good…so, so freaking good.
I can’t express how much Hsin & Boyd, Ryan, Kassian, Emilio, Zach…and all the others, have gotten under my skin and into my heart. Watching them start from angry beginnings, go through near-unbearable anguish, mess-up, make-up, have their lives screwed-up by the-powers-that-be, grow-up, and find love along the way…just…no words…”
Title: “Evenfall (book 1)”
Release Date: 2007
Title: “Afterimage (book 2)”
Release Date: 2009
Title: “Interludes (book 3)”
Release Date: 2010
Title: “Fade (book 4)”
Release Date: 2013