by: Shami Stovall
This is the first review in my “Self-Published/Indie Author Review Series.” I did not receive any compensation for this review. You can find this book for purchase here.
I consider this story to be a Biopunk meets Military Sci-Fi read, at least that’s what I’ve determined after a cursory search of the internet. I haven’t read a lot of Sci-Fi, but I’m glad I gave this one a try. Here are a few reasons why:
- Good writing. One of the reasons I have shied away from Sci-Fi in the past is an alarming number of Sci-Fi stories just aren’t written well. It’s not just Sci-Fi, I know, but for me, I have to have more than just the Sci-Fi elements to hold my attention. The Sci-Fi genre and and all its subs fans deserve well-written Sci-Fi work, too. This story proves it can be done.
- Creative technology. I especially like the enviro-suits and the starfighter ships. I think there is interesting imagery going on here with who a person is before they put the suit on and then how, once she puts on the suit, it forms to her body becoming like a new skin. Is she still herself while wearing it?
- Backstory. It’s easy to fall into the “keep the story moving forward” rule, but what’s important is the set-up and it doesn’t have to come all at once. Information overload! Stovall does a good job of weaving the backstory in so you don’t feel like you’re going in the wrong direction. She maintains plot development by introducing information from the past that is relevant to current situations.
- Themes. Thematically, Stovall takes on a lot: women in power, sexuality differences, biotech enhancement ethics, mental illness, social hierarchy, success, violence, etc. Yes, there are cool space fights and cyborgs and physical fights and a little romance, but the themes are the real meat of the story and that’s why it’s good.
Was it perfect? No. Here’s why:
- Oh, Clevon Demarco. I had a hard time with the main character. That doesn’t make him a bad character. I think we get too hung up on whether or not we like a character. Not liking a character doesn’t mean we can’t empathize. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t show growth, or provide merit. Clevon is one of those characters that can be grating after awhile. I understand that he’s rough and has a difficult past and that’s shaped him a certain way. But does he have to remind us so often? Perhaps this is an indicator of bravado fueled by self-consciousness, but it doesn’t seem like it. Can his growth happen a little sooner in the story so that I start to emotionally connect with him before it’s over?
- One of the character’s names is Lysander, which is also the name of a Shakespearean character from Midsummer Night’s Dream. Names are so important and I think, unless you’re trying to make an obvious point by naming him the same as a historically well-known and influential character, stay away. This goes, too, for Endellion. The name comes from that of a Saint, St. Endelienta, the latin form of Endellion. Is Endellion a Saint in the book? Or was this just a preferred name choice? Either way, names are important.
- There are a few places where the dialogue disconnects from the flow of writing. It stopped me and made me wonder if the character would say that word or phrase. Clevon uses the word “schmoes” for unlikeable people and then uses the phrase, “There were too many advantages to hearing my surroundings that I wouldn’t want to forsake.” Forsake? I don’t know. It just didn’t sound like Clevon.
- There were moments in the first quarter of the book that dragged. I wanted more momentum during Clevon’s training sessions on the ship. Some of it was necessary for setting up relationships with the crew; however, some of it didn’t move anything along. Once over that hump, the story moves at a much better pace.
- There is a certain female character that provides no real purpose. Who she is and what she does could be performed by another character that’s already there and it would cut down on a character the reader has to remember.
The second half of the book is more well-rounded than the first. There are some really excellent fighting scenes right alongside some character development scenes and neither type of scene outshines the other. I do end up caring for the characters and rooting for them and wanting good to win in the end.
The question is: does it?