Shaku Suihana doesn’t remember more than the last twelve years of his life. All he knows is that he is a Company Man, a cold and efficient assassin called in to do jobs without question.
His newest assignment is more inexplicable than most, starting with meeting Úlfur, who thinks Shaku is a man named Shiro—a man who disappeared twelve years ago. When the Company tries to kill Úlfur, it sends Shaku into a tailspin… especially when Úlfur is magically transformed into Leif, a beautiful, younger man who Shaku feels drawn to protect.
Shaku is tired of being in the dark about who he is, but he can’t bear the thought of putting Leif in danger to find out. He decides they should run as far and as fast as from the Company as they can. It’s when he meets a mysterious sensei who ignites both his and Leif’s passions that Shaku realizes his miscalculation: the Company Man might not be the greatest danger around.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Company Man is the second book by Ivey I’ve read and as I closed the book I thought “that author can really write.” Ivey is a good writer with a great imagination. It helps she writes in my favorite sub genre of urban fantasy but even so, this is an author to watch. However, having said that, something went terribly awry with Company Man. The premise is pretty classic with a hit man from a global company that actually runs a secret organization to fight supernatural demons and assassinate people. The hit man finds love or lust with a target and the company’s evil doings are unraveled. Although the concept is basic, Company Man takes this idea and twists it until it’s so convoluted and complicated that even the story can’t keep track of all the twists while adding in so much unnecessary, superfluous sex that it overwhelms the entire resolution. As much as I like this author, I wouldn’t recommend this story.
Shaku is a company made assassin that can’t remember his life prior to being transformed. Twelve years ago Shaku’s memory was erased and in its place are biological enhancements to make him something other than human with no free will and answering to the company alone. He was made into the ultimate hit man that follows orders no matter if he is to kill or be fucked. His latest assignment goes wrong when he meets Ulfur, a man that sparks a long forgotten memory. When Shaku escapes the company’s tether with Ulfur, the two are on the run but now with a growing attraction.
The story itself is incredibly complicated and convoluted. There are not so many plot holes per se but the various elements of the supernatural and the company itself just twist in on themselves so many times, you almost don’t care to try to figure out the complicated puzzle. There is also no real motivation to figure out what is going on, since it doesn’t really matter either. The book spends the first 100 pages on the run with Shaku and Ulfur, who changes his name to Leif. So for the first part, the reader is watching through Shaku’s first person narrative as he changes cars, ditches tails, worries about how to save Leif, and speeds away from the company while not really caring about the reasons. Shaku’s an assassin that’s been trained not to care about the why so he doesn’t spend any time wondering – thus the reader doesn’t really care either since the story is rooted in action, not the reasons for the action.
The second half of the book is entirely filled with sex, sex, and more sex. Shaku turns from a pretty unassuming deadly weapon that exposes almost no will of his own into a dominating lover that uses Leif for his sexual pet. This change in his personality doesn’t make much sense but again Shaku doesn’t spend any time caring about it since he’s too busy screwing Leif all the time. Here there is sex scene after sex scene as Shaku channels every thought, action, and desire into dominating Leif through sex. They fuck all day long, but due to a quirk in both Shaku and Leif’s genetics they have great recovery and healing time. So Leif can act as a bottom close to 24/7 but rarely be sore while Shaku is almost constantly hard. Then all of a sudden a third person shows up and the twosome becomes a threesome with more sex.
The appearance of the third person – who of course now dominates both Shaku and Leif – comes out of nowhere yet the story doesn’t really care since the last quarter of the book is filled with more and more sex and then the final resolution. The resolution attempts to wrap up the confusing and convoluted plot but at this point, who really cares? The plot seems so unimportant and implausible that even the story doesn’t seem to care. Here Shaku goes on a long verbal diatribe explaining everything that he just –now- figured out while the bad guys prompt him to explain. Um, what? And even MORE sex is included in the resolution as Leif is getting jerked off while making some pretty big decisions.
Beyond what could have been a good plot made into something kind of silly and ridiculous, the writing itself is good with snappy dialogue and fast paced transitions that keep the story moving quickly and interesting. Even among the crazy twists and turns with random characters thrown in and way, way too much sex that doesn’t offer anything – the author’s skill is there. I just have no clue where this plot came from and how it devolved into the sex filled insanity that is the result. The characterization is decent but it’s hard to get a clear picture of anyone but the narrator Shaku. The others seem solely to exist for a reason – either sex or company manipulations – so they are less well developed. The actual world building is very good since it is set in modern time but with the addition of magic/futuristic elements. The additional detail of the Icelandic company is very good as this is incredibly memorable and helps differentiate the story from other corporate espionage stories.
So while there are some very good elements to the story, overall skip Company Man. The confusing plot will have you wondering but then after the sexual overload, you almost don’t care about the maze like plot anymore and just wonder what happened. If you haven’t read this author, pick up Dreamlands.
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