This was a great book. I fell head over heels in love with Sergei. Sergei Stolkov is a Captain in the Doctrine. Sergei is part of the force that is trying to take control of the planet Cirokko. He is young and naive. Although he is a loyal soldier, his deepest desires go against the core philosophy of the Doctrine. The Doctrine believes that every action and every decision is made for the collective good. It is ingrained in everyone. The needs of the individual are not even a consideration. The SciFi geek in me kept comparing the Doctrine to the Borg. All the Doctrine needed was to be flying around in a cube :)
Mike is a spy in the Alliance who was sent to gather information on the Doctrine's invasion of Cirokko. One of his objectives was to seduce Sergei and use any information gathered to get ahead of the invasion and stop them before it begins.
Mike shows Sergei a taste of freedom. A freedom to be who he wants to be. To take the "mask" off. Sergei is constantly struggling with who he wants to be and ashamed of not living up the Doctrine. Mike tries to show Sergei what it means to make your own choices. It's ironic that for all Mike's hatred of the Doctrine's beliefs, many times he ends up putting his own feelings aside for the good of the Alliance.
I loved seeing the development in Sergei's character, to open himself up to emotion, to love. We got to experience everything right along with him. My heart broke for him. I didn't connect with Mike as strongly as I did with Sergei. I think his character was a bit underdeveloped. I didn't feel there was much depth to him. I would have liked to have seen more of him struggling with his feelings for Sergei. We know that he loves him, and time and time again he has to choose between Sergei and his mission but I didn't feel his anguish.
I also wanted more world building. I was fascinated by the planet and the dynamics between the Alliance and the Doctrine. How did they become enemies? What was unique about Cirokko? Was it just to get another planet to follow the Doctrine ways or was there more? I wanted to know more about the indigenous life on Cirokko. Also, how far in the future did this take place in?
I also thought the ending was a bit rushed. I loved Nikishin and wanted to see more of him confronting Mike and Pat at the end, and I felt unsettled how we left Sergei. Although I'm happy with his decision, I wanted to see him dealing with the consequences. How Nikishin and the Doctrine dealt with what happened would have also been a bonus.
I guess I'm saying I want more! I want more of Nikishin and I want to see how Sergei is dealing with his new life.