It’s pretty rare for a video game tie-in novel to be particularly worthwhile, and this is unfortunately no exception. It’s competently written, there are no glaring errors or anything, but it’s undercooked, underdeveloped, stilted, workmanlike…nothing special, and nothing really pleasant to read.
If read purely for insights into to the Deus Ex universe, there’s not much really worth it in here. A few characters from Human Revolution and the original game have cameos (some even more than that) but none of it amounts to anything.
As for the two protagonists of this book, Ben Saxon works as a lead character. He’s unoriginal but sketched well enough. Anna Kelso is too thinly written to make much of an impact.
I’d heard the novel provided lots of insight into the “bosses” of Human Revolution, but there really isn’t that much. Sure, they appear a lot, but there’s little insight into their characters. Certainly none beyond what could be gleaned in the game itself.
The titular phenomenon was an interesting idea (if just a rephrasing of tall poppy syndrome, to a degree), but was barely actually explored in the novel.
It’s not an awful novel, but it’s nothing special and not particularly worth reading unless one is really invested in the universe of the games.
I give it two mech-augmentations, and a Diamond Back.