Evil Alive (Circle of Six Trilogy, Book 2)
Beaver’s Pond Press (2021)
Reviewed by Kristina Turner for Reader Views (02/2022)
Reprinted with permission from original post.
“Why is this happening? Why my life? Why me? …That’s when he finally had the chance to really get to know the girl down the street, the girl he’d had a crush on for as long as he could remember. It was also when the group of men smashed into their lives, literally. And wrecked everything. Why me?” pp. 24-25
In Book 1 of the Circle of Six trilogy, “No Such Thing as Evil,” Hunkins introduced us to Chris, a teen possessed by a protective spirit, the Warden, which gives him super-human powers. He and his friends and family became the only hope against evil taking over the world and bringing about the apocalypse. “Evil Alive” is the next battle in the war. Unfortunately, Chris is not interested in being the savior of the world. He just wants to be with his girlfriend and enjoy senior life: being class president, going to prom, and graduating with his friends. While the world is threatened by an evil only he has the power to fight, Chris only wants to pine for his girlfriend, Hope, who refuses to talk to him. Still, when summer ends and school is starting, he and Katie, Al, and Hope are on the run again, hunted by the Circle of Six, and wanted by the FBI and the DOD.
On the other side of this conflict, the Circle of Six are slowly bringing their plans to fruition. They’ve been creating their own superhuman—a thing of flesh rather than spirit. And their monster is finally ready to bring to bear against Chris’s Warden. How will this inevitable confrontation go down?
Hunkins’ techno-thriller is darkness blended with light. On one side is the Circle of Six, whose evil is unquestionable. Each of the men of the circle is a force of depravity, selfishness, and cruelty. Descriptions of their actions, torture sessions, and machinations made my skin positively crawl. I don’t recommend reading any of their chapters right before bed! Nightmare fuel! Conversely, Chris’s band of friends are a powerful force for good, radiating empathy, unconditional love, and kindness.
Like book one, “Evil Alive” builds toward a clash between these two forces. Unfortunately, as in the world, evil seems to have the upper hand, the greater strength. The Circle is focused on a goal and can see into the future while Chris’s world is just falling apart. His own circle of friends and family are broken and scattered, his powers and connection to the Warden are tenuous at best. The themes center on acceptance and hope. Chris must come to accept his role as the Warden’s host (and possibly humanity’s savior) before he can have Hope (a rather crystal clear symbol). And oh, the end! My heart… I need book three RIGHT NOW! It cannot end this way (wailing/crying emoji).
Overall, the chunked up chapters make for fast reading, though I felt this book was a bit slower and felt more ponderous than the first. Even so, Hunkins writes consistent, likable, and sympathetic characters (or extremely distasteful but clearly charismatic characters in the case of the Circle). The parallels between the Circle and Chris’s group weave nicely, and I can’t wait to see their final forms in the trilogy’s last installment. Hunkins’ descriptions are vivid – sometimes too much so (again, no reading before bed!) as Hunkins has a knack for finding the most subtlety unsubtle ways of representing the Circle’s perversion.
My personal favorite thing about Hunkins writing is his incorporation of ancient mythologies, philosophy, cutting edge technology, and a variety of sciences and meta-sciences. Everything from Nietzsche to King Herod. Haoma to DNA. Evil is Alive, he tells us, in everything around us. But so is Good.