There’s something about this series that just doesn’t click with me.
To start, it picks up a few hours after the cliffanger ending of the last book.
Can I just say how much cliffhangers irritate me? I feel they usually fall into the realm of cheap marketing; if you’ve written an interesting series, your audience will return. Mainly, however, I object because it deprives the audience–and let’s not mince words here, by ‘audience,’ I mean ‘me’– of emotional resolution. I’m big on resolution.
Where was I?
Oh, right: so Ben and Miranda have been rescued from the ocean and are on a large ship. Trouble is, they’ve been rescued by Mal (obvious, much?) who hates Ben, and is only keeping him alive because he wants Miranda’s medical skills. I can sympathize with Mal, actually–Ben is pretty much a selfish ass, and everyone, even Ben, knows he can’t be trusted. Ben wheels and deals his way into freedom, which leads to more adventure, and accompanying costs.
“She thinks I broke the rules by shooting that soldier. I would feel guilty except I know that it was either him or one of us. Besides, he might have lived. If he got attention in time.
The truth is, I don’t care either way.”
Truth is, he does care, but only a little, mostly because Miranda cares. Miranda is a scientist passionate about finding a cure, but she’s also come to appreciate Ben’s devotion to her, even if he doesn’t believe in her cause.The one area this book shines is capturing the emotional tone of their connection.
Narrative is from Ben’s point of view. Remember when I said he was an ass? Yeah, that. He has little to no curiosity about those around him, so it doesn’t really aid in world or character-building. There are a few chapters from Miranda’s point of view, but they are journal entry style, complete with a sloppy font that was hard to read.
Plotting felt weak. Device upon device solving Ben’s problems as they appeared. No wonder the dude never makes a plan–the author will provide some solution for him.
World-building has interesting bones, but leaves me feeling like it is tremendously incomplete. I believe we’re a generation or two beyond a viral outbreak that has turned exposed people into bloodthirsty ‘ferals.’ So there’s still a serious looting-based society, with some return to self-sufficiency. Although some people have created a floating city, so take that for what you will. In this story, research data saved on a ‘stick’ proves vital, not to mention the electron microscope and the generators. That these devices work–but ships don’t–is dismissed with a hand-wavy “leave it to the boffins to figure out how something like that could work.” At the same time, water comes from a well and guests need to sleep in blankets by a fire. I suppose since it is reality-based, I’m looking for my world to hang together. But, they have created a hipster brew pub with both light and dark ale, so kudos!
I do like is the idea that there are many little pockets of civilization which have unique identities. I think that would be a logical evolution of people trying to survive. There a sciencey-twist to the story which is kind of enjoyable, except that it’s been fairly well telegraphed to that point. Oh, and it makes real science look easy. In fact, it’s the movie-version of science. Cue the montage! Here comes a cure!
And oh yes, I was reminded again of something I don’t like–cliffhanger endings.
Two and a half salvaged stars, rounding down because–