What I’m Reading: Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Hello, everyone! It’s the third Saturday of the month, and that’s book review day. I read this book a couple months ago, mostly on a flight from Georgia to New Hampshire, so this review is really long overdue. But here we are!

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Information for Readers

Genre: Christian Fantasy

Age Level: YA

Content? Only a little; some blood. No swearing or anything like that.

The Story: Sixteen-year-old Jason Masters has always doubted the stories of humans kidnapped by dragons and enslaved in another world. But when his brother Adrian leaves to rescue them, Jason is framed for murder and must go after him. In the other world, Koren, a young woman enslaved by dragons, discovers her special abilities and a mysterious black egg prophesied to be the doom of humans. Now, Jason and Koren must work together to free the slaves and fight the dragons’ tyranny.

This was a very cool premise, and enough of it was left at the end that I really need to read the three sequels and find out what happens. This was just the beginning of the story, but it was a great start.

The Characters: I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Jason, Randall, Elyssa, Tibalt, Koren, Natalla, Wallace, Arxad, the dragon prince, Magnar, and Zena were all really interesting. Tibalt provided great comic relief. My favorite character was probably Jason; I enjoyed his heroic idealism. I liked all the characters though (except Magnar, that evil dragon), and I’m looking forward to watching them develop more in the sequels.

The Writing: Bryan Davis is quite a good writer. I don’t remember catching any grammatical errors or anything like that, which is always good. He’s also really good at deep third-person POV. And the worldbuilding of the two worlds was really interesting, particularly the blend of technology levels in the humans’ world, though this was a bit confusing initially.

Overall: Very good book; looking forward to the sequels! Definitely recommended.

What do you think? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you want to read it? Share in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Good morning! First, a quick note about scheduling. This post was supposed to go up this past Saturday, but I unfortunately got sick and couldn’t finish it in time. Sorry for that little slide in regular scheduling! Now on to the review.

Originally what caught my attention about Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was the title and the striking cover. Then, since it’s such a popular book, I read a lot of contrasting reviews of it on Goodreads, and Victoria Howell’s review got me even more curious. So I read it last month to decide what I thought of it, and the winner is . . . mixed feelings! Here’s my full review.

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Information for Readers
Genre: Fantasy
Age level: YA–I’d say 16 and up. See notes about content.
Content? Quite a lot: violence, mild swearing, fairly graphic descriptions of dead bodies, and a fair bit of innuendo.
The Story: After a brutal year in forced labor, eighteen-year-old notorious assassin Celaena Sardothien is selected as a competitor for King’s Champion. After each test, contestants are eliminated–and some start dying gruesome deaths in between. Celaena, Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard, and Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall must figure out who (or what) is behind the deaths before she becomes next on the hit list.
This was an interesting and suspenseful storyline with a lot going on. The subplot of the love triangle held my interest as well, though it was a bit stereotypical.
The Characters: There were rather a lot of these, between the contestants (of some of whom it was said “there were five soldiers” or whatever, but still), some of the noble sponsors, a ghost queen, the living king and his minions, a visiting princess, and of course, Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol. It could be a little confusing at times, but I was mostly able to keep track of them. Generally, I liked Nox, Nehemia, and Chaol the best; Chaol was easily my favorite.
A lot of the reviews I read differed in their opinions of Celaena, and on reading this book, I can see why. There’s a lot going on within her character. She’s an assassin who lost her parents at a young age, likes to read and play piano, and is a kick-butt heroine but loves clothes and candy. I guess all the contradictions and complexities made her realistic and multidimensional, but at times, it felt a little forced. I did like the way she grew over the course of the book, from thinking she couldn’t care for anybody at the castle and she’d run away at the first opportunity to walking away from that opportunity because she’d grown to care for Dorian and Chaol. I think that was a nice arc. I guess I liked her, but she wasn’t my favorite lead character ever.
I can say something similar for Dorian, except I liked him less. Upon reflection, I feel like he’s sort of a good-looking scuzzball who happens to be a noble prince. I thought Chaol was the more worthy member of the love triangle.
The Writing: As I mentioned, there was a lot going on in this book. It was all woven together very skilfully and always kept me interested to go to the next page or chapter. The worldbuilding was also good; I liked all the political strife going on between different countries, and the fact that that played into Celaena and her friends’ characters as well; for example, Celaena’s friend Nehemia is the princess of Eyllwe, a recently conquered country, visiting to learn more about her conquerors–supposedly. And Celaena herself is not from Adarlan originally. So generally it was a well-written book.
Overall: I thought this was a pretty good book, and I enjoyed the story but felt iffy about some of the characters. I probably won’t be reading the sequels, just because there are so many other things I’d rather read and only so much time to read them. But overall, pretty good.
What do you think? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Of the characters? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: The Progeny by Tosca Lee

I’d been wanting to read this book for a while after I noticed it in the “Thrillers” section on Goodreads (and my friend apprised me that Tosca Lee was an excellent author). When I finally got to it a couple of weeks ago, I was not disappointed. Here is my review!

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It’s a relatively new book for me; it came out May 2016.

Information for Readers

Genre: Supernatural thriller

Age level: Older teens to adults.

Content? There is mention of violence, and some characters die. No swearing at all, but some implied sex, nothing explicit. Lee is a Christian author, so everything is handled very well.

The Story: Emily Porter wakes up in rural Maine after having a procedure to erase her memory of the last two years; she doesn’t know who she really is or any names or faces from her previous life. Soon, two young men show up in her town, each claiming the other wants to kill her. Rolan reveals to her that she is really Audra Ellison, descendant of Elizabeth Bathory (known as the most prolific female serial killer in history), and that as a “Progeny,” she can influence most people’s thoughts. But the descendants of Bathory’s victims, the hunters, are out to kill every living Progeny and steal their memories. Now, Audra has to determine who to trust, what she was up to before she erased her memory, and most importantly, how to save the Progeny.

The premise of this book was just fascinating to me, and Audra’s memory loss had me hooked, wondering why she would do that. This story was great. More below. . . .

The Characters: Simply put, I loved them. (Except Nikola–he’s just evil.) Audra had to be my favorite, though Luka was a close second. I really liked how well-developed they and their relationship were. I also liked Claudia, though; I thought her overcoming her bitterness to Audra was really well done. I’m hoping to learn more about some characters, like Rolan and Clare, in the next book, but what I got about them was promising.

The Writing: Okay, so Lee deserves her reputation. She is an excellent writer. I did not find any grammatical mistakes in this book (which always endears authors to me), the showing and telling was perfectly placed, and the pacing. The pacing was amazing. I always admire people who can do pacing well; it’s something I have struggled with. It was perfect, with just enough “down time” between major incidents for Audra’s journey to bring important information to light. The worldbuilding was also handled really well, especially the Progeny underground in European cities, the order of the hunters, and the involvement of the Franciscans. Lee made it all blend so naturally with our world.

Overall: Wonderful story, well written, with compelling characters. Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Have you read The Progeny? Anything else by Tosca Lee? If so, what did you think of her writing? Who was your favorite character? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I must confess that I saw the movie version of this story before I read the book. It was on TV one night, but we didn’t see all of it, so we got it out from the library and watched again a few days later. It was quite good, and that got me wanting to read the book. Hence this review.

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And let me tell you, the book was amazing. So let’s get to it!

Information for Readers

Genre: Science fiction/psychological

Age level: I’d say older teens and adults for the intensity.

Content? Because of the subject matter, there’s a lot of violence and death. Ender gets pretty traumatized eventually. There’s also a fair bit of swearing and occasional mentions of private parts. I’d rate the book PG-13.

The Story: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a brilliant six-year-old boy, is recruited for Battle School by the International Fleet. They need someone to defeat the “buggers,” insect-like aliens that have invaded Earth twice trying to colonize, and their best hope is in gifted children like Ender. Once at Battle School, Ender finds both friends and enemies, especially when he excels far past the norm for his age. His prowess in fighting, both mock and real, leaves him tortured, struggling not to be like his tyrannical brother Peter.

This was an excellent story. The premise was just fascinating, and Card did as much with it as he possibly could have. I also really liked the ending, how it wrapped everything up from earlier in the book. It was just a really well-done plot.

The Characters: They were excellent, beautifully written. I thought it was great how they all had goals: Colonel Graff, trying to save Earth and take care of Ender at the same time; Peter, trying to take over the world by influencing ideas on the nets; and Ender, trying to survive and, eventually, to make the IF stop manipulating him. These were just a few examples; all the characters were really well developed and interesting. Ender was my favorite, though I also liked the few scenes spent with Valentine, and the dialogue from Graff at the beginning of each chapter. I really appreciated Ender’s struggle to not become his brother and to cope with the things he’d done as he got older.

The Writing: So this book was published in 1977, almost forty years ago, and I’m not sure they had the same ideas about point-of-view and such then as we do now. It seemed like a book written in omniscient to me; usually, each scene was spent looking into one character’s mind (with a few exceptions), usually Ender, but occasionally the narrator would drop in warnings that something was going to happen and Ender didn’t know about it. There was also a lot of telling, which actually worked for the omniscient-ish POV, and it did go alongside showing things through Ender’s experiences.

The worldbuilding was excellent; it felt very futuristic with the artificial gravity of Battle School (according to my physics professor, that’s scientifically accurate, too) and the video games on portable “desks.” One thing I found interesting was that, in Card’s future society, the Warsaw Pact still exists as a powerful faction, although Earth is allied under a global Hegemony. This leads to some friction later on, driven by Ender’s siblings, which is an interesting subplot. It was great how Card never overexplained anything about the worldbuilding; instead, he just let the reader be immersed in the world. I really liked it.

One more thing bears mentioning in this section: the themes. I was on the hunt for themes as I read this book, and I found so many. Childhood, war, guilt, forgiveness, power, ends justifying means, friendship, and love, and there are probably more that I could find if I re-read the book. The complexity, the many layers and levels of this story make it ripe with themes, with thoughts on life and humanity. I really loved the literary depth of it.

Overall: Ender’s Game is a fantastic book. The premise is fascinating, the characters compelling, the writing complex and deep. It’s a really magnificent work of fiction. Highly recommended!

What do you think? Have you ever read Ender’s Game? Would you like to? Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it (either one)? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Hello again! Normally I do book reviews on the third Saturday of the month, but since it’s a five-Saturday month, things got shifted around a little bit. And this will be a short review, since a) it’s a fairly short book and b) I’m writing this post rather last-minute (oops). So let’s jump right in!

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Information for Readers:

Genre: Classic Romance

Age Level: Probably all ages from teens up

Extreme Content? Not really; this is a pretty tame book.

The Story: Anne Elliot, the plain middle daughter of a noble family suffering from her father’s extravagance, wishes she had married her sweetheart Captain Wentworth eight years ago. When he unexpectedly reappears, interested in another girl, and in the midst of her family’s move to Bath to rent out their house, she must discern what his true intentions are and whether he or the charming Mr. Elliot is the better man.

The Characters: The characters were quite interesting. I didn’t see as much of Lady Russell as I would have liked from the beginning of the book; considering she was so involved in Anne’s prior decision to not marry Captain Wentworth, I would have thought she would be more involved toward the end. I loved how Austen used Sir Walter and Elizabeth, Anne’s father and older sister, to critique society. Mary, Anne’s younger sister, was delightfully annoying. Captain Wentworth was well-developed and well-rounded. Anne was definitely my favorite character; she just felt real to me. I appreciated her sensible outlook on life and logical, calm approach to problems like dealing with pesky family members. I think so much emphasis is placed on having “strong” female characters these days that the strength in quiet kindness gets lost a bit, so I found it quite refreshing to read about Anne.

The Writing: It’s difficult for me to critique Jane Austen, since she did write two centuries ago in another country and social class. I enjoyed the little tongue-in-cheek comments, a hallmark of Austen (as I know from reading three of her books), that she slipped in during descriptions and so forth. I think she really succeeded in transporting me to another time and place, something the familiarity of living in that time and place did a lot to help her with. None of the rules of inheritance or anything like that was explained, since, of course, the nineteenth-century upper-class reader would already know them. I really enjoyed it.

Overall: A pleasant short read. It made a nice break from classwork, and it was lovely getting to know Anne Elliot. Definitely recommended!

Have you ever read Persuasion? What do you think of it? If you haven’t, do you think you’d like to try it out? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Nemesis by Isaac Asimov

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This was one of the books I scooped up at a library sale a couple months ago, and got around to reading it last month. Here are my quick thoughts before I get back to studying!

The Story: In the future, Earth’s population has extended onto “Settlements,” little ships like mini-planets hanging in space in the solar system. Rotor, the first of the Settlements to develop hyper-assistance technology, leaves to orbit a Neighbor Star, Nemesis, discovered by Rotorian astronomer Eugenia Insigna. Why Nemesis? Well, according to calculations, in a few thousand years, Nemesis will pass close enough to the Sun to destroy all life on Earth.

Fast-forward 15 years, and Insigna’s daughter, Marlene (three syllables, not two), is drawn to the “planet” Erythro (actually a sort of moon) in the Nemesian system, which Rotor now orbits. Marlene is not pretty, but has the gift of interpreting everyone’s body language and expressions to essentially read their thoughts. To get down to the surface safely (and figure out exactly why the planet draws her), she has to get past her mother’s objections and Commissioner of Rotor Janus Pitt’s plotting. What she finds when she finally gets there is nothing short of incredible.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Marlene’s father, Crile Fisher, recruits a Settlement scientist, Tessa Wendel, to develop true superluminal flight for his bosses at the Terrestrial Board of Inquiry, who are after Rotor. Crile, however, is after Marlene. What will they find when they blast off?

Clearly, there was no simple way for me to summarize this story. It was not a simple story at all. I have a pretty good memory and was able to keep track of it all, but I can see how it would get confusing.

The Characters: As I got further into this book, I found, to my disappointment, that it is not very character-centric. All the characters (Marlene, Insigna, Pitt, Fisher, Wendel, Genarr) are less people and more vehicles for ideas. I felt that Marlene, the most interesting character, due to her pseudo-mind reading abilities, was under-featured; there was one chapter in her point of view at the beginning and a few more nearer the end. Beyond that, I heard about her mostly from her mother and other characters, which, while an interesting technique, got annoying because I wanted to hear from her directly. Few, if any, of the characters had real arcs within the book; it was mostly about the science and the hypothetical future, which, while I found it interesting, detracted from the story as, well, a story. I can see how Asimov tried to make them relatable and interesting, but I think he either tried too hard or not hard enough and they aren’t quite there.

The Writing: Like I said earlier, the book is less a story and more a hypothesis of how Earth’s future could go and what we might find out there. The most blatant mistake I found was the dialogue. The characters are constantly calling each other by their names and saying contrived things so the reader will get the point. There are also several infodumps about astrophysics so the reader will understand the science. (I was actually somewhat interested by these, but I doubt many non-scientist readers would be.) On the plus side, Asimov definitely doesn’t infodump worldbuilding; he drops you in and gives details later, selectively.

Overall: This was an interesting book, despite somewhat flat characters and bad dialogue. I wouldn’t say it was totally enthralling, but I was interested by the scientific premise at the end. Not the best I’ve ever read, but not the worst either.

What do you think? Have you ever read Asimov? If so, do you agree or disagree with me? Do you think you will try this book now? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

Hello, all! It’s the third Saturday of the month, which means I am writing about what I’m reading. More properly, today, what I read a month and a half ago. I am an avid reader of K.M. Weiland’s blog Helping Writers Become Authors, which you should go check out for helpful writing advice as soon as you’ve finished this post, so I put her fantasy book Dreamlander on my reading list and got it for my birthday. I read it in less than a week and absolutely loved it. So since I already had last month’s review lined up, here is Dreamlander‘s review today!

 

 

The Story: Chris Redston, Chicago journalist, wakes up in another world after having strange dreams about a woman warning him not to come to her. He finds out that all humans actually live in two worlds: Earth and Lael. When they are asleep in one world, they are awake in the other, living another life, but believe they are dreaming.

Chris is the Gifted, one in a generation who crosses between the worlds, and can bring things with him. Before being properly instructed in this power, he brings across a warlike leader, Faolan Mactalde, who died in Lael years before, resurrecting him in Lael–and causing the worlds to start breaking apart. Now, Chris must do all he can to defeat Mactalde and restore the balance of the worlds.

I loved this story! The conception of the two worlds and the nature of dreams was so original. There was a lot of politics going on in Lael, as well, and I loved how Weiland wove happenings in the two worlds together. I would like to say more here, but it really falls into the next two sections, so just read on.

The Characters: Weiland really hits character arcs on the head. I loved watching Chris grow into a leader, and watching the Searcher, Allara Katadin, grow with him. Chris was my favorite character, since he was just so relatable and fun to watch and an all-around nice guy, but there were many other great characters: Orias Tarn, Captain Quinnon, Pitch and Raz (the Riever comic-relief duo), Allara, Mike, and even Mactalde. All were quite compelling; only Allara’s characterization might have felt a little forced.

The Writing: So . . . K.M. Weiland is an amazing writer. It was awesome to see all her wise advice about story structure and character arcs and common writing mistakes written into a novel. Dreamlander is one of the best-written books I have ever read. The pacing was superb, the prose excellent, and the plot intriguing and suspenseful.

The worldbuilding was also fantastic. I really loved the uniqueness of Lael. It was sort of a medieval fantasy world with a steampunk vibe. I mean, hydraulic pistols, skycars, swords, and castles? Yes, please. It gave the air of an evolving world, not one in unnecessary stasis, especially when Chris brings over an Earth pistol to fight with (one that gives him more than one shot at a time) and Quinnon mentions how he’ll have to start giving those to his men, or something to that effect. It was just fantastic to read.

Overall: I loved this book. Five stars!

Have you ever read Dreamlander? Do you think you’ll try it now? (Do, please, I highly recommend it.) Do you like fantasy worlds that are evolving, and not in stasis? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

What I’m Reading: Winter’s Corruption by Brennan D.K. Corrigan

When Ben Taylor witnesses a murder during his vacation on another planet, he is thrust into a vicious game of hide-and-seek among rebels and criminals. Now, Ben must decide whether to involve himself in another world’s troubles and change his life forever.

Hello there! I have been very busy, but as my friend Brennan D.K. Corrigan is guest posting on linguistics in fiction next week (hooray for fifth Saturdays!), I thought I might review his debut novel this week. Winter’s Corruption is an independently published YA sci-fi/fantasy tale which you can read more about here: http://brennandkcorrigan.tumblr.com/. Okay. On to the review!

(Full disclaimer: I served as a beta reader for this novel before it was published. I shall try to review as objectively as possible.)

The Story: Sixteen-year-old Ben Taylor, from the only American family that knows about the interplanetary Daalronnan Alliance, witnesses a murder, picks up a blue device, and bam! runs off through the wilderness and straight into the freedom-fighting organization Sildial on the planet Andaros. Sildial is trying to stave off the flood of organized crime from other planets that has overwhelmed their country. When Ben’s friend Seren decides to stay with Sildial rather than return to her unwelcoming home planet, Ben decides to stay and help Andaros, too.

I really enjoyed this story. Ben’s adventures, first in the wilderness and then with Sildial, kept me engaged beginning to end. The plotting was somewhat lacking in the later part of the book (I felt that the real climax came too early, so that the events at the climax mark lacked oomph), but overall, it was a really good story.

The Characters: I really enjoyed many of the characters. Ben, Seren, Celer, Vuri, Javrel . . . okay, pretty much all the characters. 😉 They’re well-rounded, interesting, and fun to read about. My favorite was probably Vuri; I loved her depth and the way her backstory played into her character arc. Plus she’s kick-butt, which is cool.

I would also like to point out here how compelling one of the antagonists was. Kalar, leader of Sildial, has realistic motivations that cause real trouble for Ben and friends later on. I enjoyed reading about him.

The Writing: There are some spots of beautiful prose in this book. More numerous, unfortunately, are point-of-view issues, telling words, and some errors in spelling and punctuation. It is unfortunate that these are so numerous, as the story is so enjoyable.

The worldbuilding, however, is fantastic. Brennan put Andaros together with minute attention to detail: culture, history, and especially language. The frequently inserted bits of spoken Voleric really bring the reader into the fact that this is an alien world. I also enjoyed the unorthodox use of magic in a science-fiction world, with the political strife it causes as well. I particularly liked the concept of Messengers, intelligent magical beings created from cloth who can fly among the stars at great speeds. I thought the world was really original and well-crafted. I can’t wait to see where the second book goes!

Overall: Winter’s Corruption had an enjoyable story, great characters, and a beautifully crafted storyworld, with the regrettable detractions of some writing and plotting errors. Overall, it’s definitely worth a read!

Tell me what you think! Have you read Winter’s Corruption? Do you think you’ll give it a try? Are you excited for next week’s guest post? Share in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a society where books are forbidden, book-burning fireman Guy Montag must make a decision: whether or not resuscitating books’ secrets is worth losing the life he now lives.

Well, the votes are in! Two weeks ago, I asked you which book of the three I’d recently read you’d like me to review on the blog. The winner was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which I must admit I’m happy about, since I liked it so much.

Fahrenheit 451 is a classic for good reasons. Let’s examine them!

The Story: Guy Montag is a fireman, but in a future when all houses are fireproofed, that means he burns down houses filled with contraband (books). Then, he meets Clarisse, a young neighbor who thinks far more than the average person, and starts to venture down the same path. I shan’t say any more for fear of giving spoilers. . . .

This story was excellently written. Many events are unpredictable, yet foreshadowed enough that they are not unbelievable. The subplots–Montag’s marriage, his friendships with Clarisse and Faber, and his work life–all wove together really well. And the way it was written made it really memorable. More on that below.

The Characters: There are just enough characters in this book, not too many: Montag, our main fireman; Clarisse, his young friend; Faber, a professor before universities ceased to exist; Beatty, the fire chief; Millie, Montag’s wife; Granger, whom he meets near the end. They were all distinct and well-developed, and I got to know more about them as I read along and Bradbury revealed the backstory (again, just enough, not too much). They were all fascinating. I cared about all of them in different ways. Some made me sad; some made me happy. For me, that’s the mark of a good writer, that the characters are compelling.

I liked all the characters, but Montag was my favorite. I really enjoyed watching him grow and develop over the course of the book, watching him gradually discover the truth and cope with his misdeeds (some of which are pretty serious, reminding me of this post on Helping Writers Become Authors). He was just so compelling. I loved cheering him on. 🙂

The Writing: Ray Bradbury was a good writer. Sure, he used telling words here and there, and there were a few narrative passages explaining things, but overall, I was really inside Montag’s head. In several places, the book was slightly disorienting, the way it was written, but that served to emphasize Montag’s confusion. It was very immersive.

Another thing I noticed was the worldbuilding. Bradbury doesn’t do a lot of explaining up front about the storyworld; he just drops the reader right into it. He explains things as they come up, like the Mechanical Hound; or he has the characters explain them, like Beatty’s explanation of how firemen came to burn houses instead of fighting fires. And the world was fascinating. I think part of the reason Fahrenheit 451 is so classic is that the society is so relevant, so realistic. It could really happen, and that’s stuck with people since the book was first published in 1953. It will certainly stick with me; it was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Overall: Fahrenheit 451 was an excellent book, a timeless classic. I definitely recommend it!

What do you think? Have you ever read Fahrenheit 451? Anything else by Bradbury? If so, what did you like about it? If not, do you think you’d like to read it? Share in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Edge of Oblivion by Joshua A. Johnston

When a great evil attacks his interplanetary Confederacy, Naval Commander Jared Carter is sent not to the front lines, but to chase down ancient religious artifacts that may hold the key to destroying the new enemy.

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My copy, which I won in a giveaway.

After reading the back cover copy for Edge of Oblivion, I was really excited to read it. It sounded so interesting. While that proved to be true, it unfortunately did disappoint me a little. More below.

The Story: Many years in the future, Earth’s history has been lost during a mysterious dark age. Malum, a planet-sized ship in service of “the Master,” appears on the edge of Confederal space and works its way in, vaporizing people and ships as it goes. Nothing in the Confederal Navy can make a dent in Malum, let alone defeat it. So the Navy’s higher-ups send interceptor commander Jared Carter off chasing the only lead they have: a fragment of an ancient religious text which contains the same compound as Malum’s hull. Jared Carter and his crew chase that lead across several different planets and ultimately up to Malum itself.

I thought the premise was the best part of this book. The storyworld (or worlds; this is a space opera, like Star Trek and Star Wars) was beautifully developed, particularly the history of the Confederacy. I’ll discuss that more later on. The story of the interceptor crew chasing down an old, forbidden religion in a time when religion is looked down on was also interesting. The pacing was perfect, keeping me hooked through action and reaction scenes. And the theme (hope) was woven in subtly at the beginning through all the despair and became more obvious at the end, which I liked.

The Characters: The principal characters were Jared Carter, his interceptor’s crew, and the religious men who have the all-important text fragments. One of those men, Nho, stays with the crew after being rescued by them and becomes a mentor of sorts. He was my favorite character, probably because he was the best-developed, although I also liked Vetta and Darel, a couple of the alien crew members. All the characters seemed a bit underdeveloped at first, but they were revealed more later on. Jared, the protagonist, felt particularly bland to me; although he got slightly more interesting later on, he still wasn’t as compelling as Nho or Vetta. I’m hopeful that he’ll get more interesting in subsequent books (this is the first of a series).

The Writing: This is where I had my biggest problems with this book. The story was well plotted, but there were various errors in the way it was told. Mainly, there was a lot of telling rather than showing, in a couple ways. A lot of telling words were used (“Jared saw,” “Jared wanted,” “Jared thought,” etc.), rather than showing the reader what was going on inside Jared’s head. There was also a lot of infodumping, sometimes for no apparent reason, as when a chapter started with several paragraphs on the ways pirates might track a ship in space. (This did not turn out to foreshadow any event later on.) Characters’ backstory was also infodumped in several places, and there was a lot of contrived dialogue used to convey information. None of that got in the way of the action scenes, though.

Overall: Edge of Oblivion is an interesting book with an original premise, but the message of hope in Christ would have been much stronger had the writing been stronger and the characters more interesting. This was a debut novel, so I’m hopeful that things will improve in the rest of the series. It is worth the read for the story’s sake alone.

What do you think? Have you ever read a space opera? Have you read Edge of Oblivion? Did you enjoy it? Tell me in the comments!