Blue Gold is an entertaining thriller for readers who like spy stories with a splash of sci-fi. It does not necessarily fit into any one genre. The story is a little sci-fi but no more than an old school James Bond film would be. The MI6 agent characters have gadgets and with it being set in the near-future, technology is a bit more advanced. This is a pretty fast paced adventure and jumps around (geographically) quite a bit. Plus the story, by the end, is a classic tale of espionage.
David Barker did an exceptional job with the world-building. In the near future, humanity is running short on fresh water. We are not talking a Mad Max level drought, but it is enough to where governments are starting to ration. Smaller, more impoverished countries (especially those in desert/dry areas) are starting to war with each other over water sources. Simultaneously, solar flares have knocked out a lot of satellites and seriously altered global communications. Both of these factors result in a war for information among first world countries. Protagonists Sim and Freda start by chasing a terrorist plot that soon evolves into a much greater adventure.
Sim and Freda’s chase of suspects and criminals leads them all over the world. They go from Europe to America to the futuristic “ocean cities”. In a nutshell, rich people built floating cities to get out of paying taxes. This seems like something ridiculous enough to be in this kind of story, but also believable enough for some rich people to actually try. Our MI6 agents go to great lengths for the sake of stealth (in-between getting noticed and captured). They are not the only ones, however; Blue Gold does feature a few more storylines. Other plot-centric characters are relevant to the story and their purpose becomes clearer later on. Also, still in the style of classic Bond, the ending features a large battle at the bad guy’s evil lair.
There are little bits of information at the beginning of each chapter, taken from Sim and Freda’s training manuals. These seemed like a mixed bag. On one hand, they provided crucial background information in each chapter. On the other hand, that presentation made the information feel forced. If that information had been worked into the story more naturally it would have felt smoother. Overall, Blue Gold is a good story but just did not seem to really pull you in as a reader.