Special thanks to Netgalley & the book publisher, for allowing me to read and review this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.
To start – let me say I REALLY enjoyed this book. Very happy with all aspects – well written, no lost plot holes, nice and long, and finishes with a completion of the story plot. I wasn’t left wondering about anything significant, aside from what a good book should: ‘I wonder what they do next?’ – in a good way, not in a the story wasn’t done way.
There was great attention to detail in describing all the different sentient beings featured in this cosmo-sphere. With enough detail for you to create a mental picture, but it never felt like info dumping.
The cosmic landscape s very interesting – with some unique elements I don’t recall being used before – so that’s a huge plus , on the creativity side. And it worked, for me enough to suspend critical thinking about the how’s and why’s of it. Again, enough details that you could picture it in your mind.
**Mild spoilers ahead**
The story Starts on a planet, with our main young character living what he thinks is his best Life. He’s happy, healthy, has a family, likes what he’s training to do (mechanic) and he’s good at it; despite a major agricultural issue happening there.
Then, almost immediately, the plot go sideways, and we’re transported to a very graphic and brutal slaughter of everyone we’ve just been introduced to by alien creatures, aside from our character. This sets up the actual cast of the story, and sets into motion the plots, external and internal. Our young boy now wants and swears to get revenge/justice for all the people who have been killed, his entire society, once he understands that it was not an accident, but a slaughter.
The rest of the book is just that. A great adventure with a lot of creativity, and interesting twists, of how he does just that, with the help of a group of sentient peoples who help him off the planet where the slaughter occurred, and out into the vast universe, which he had no idea existed until hat moment. They’re a motley band of personalities, each with different strengths and weaknesses that we get to know, along with a variety of personalities, traits, and species unique qualities.
* * *
Enjoyed the excellent world building, enough information about the universes, beings, planets, systems, etc., that one can easily envision it. Without being bogged down and feeling like info dumps. And they used one of my own tips on renaming things, such as time systems. Instead of giving it an unmemorable, incomprehensible word for minutes, hour, etc – this write does the right thing and calls an hour an ‘ephemeris hour’.
Really liked the creativity in the augmentations (as well as all the various beings differences) – and one character’s (En) ability to shift sexual presentations at will, and appearances as such to whatever they choose, and feel is most pertinent to the moment.
The mixed bag:
The use of creative cursing through 99% of the book (Crimes! Nine crimes! To void with this!)
* Though I was super disappointed in the author – because at one point our main character devolves in to a bunch of ‘shits!’. I feel like the author failed there, when they had made such a clear style choice to not use typical english curses, until things got bad. They could have done better – and stayed in the story, choosing a creative curse, like the rest of the book.
Comes close to violating one of my personal pet peeves as a reader: Use of unpronounceable names; but they’re on the edge of tolerable. They’re non-sensical, but most are pronounceable, or close enough to gloss over (no pun intended!).
I wondered why when our character decided to make up a name for himself (Will), instead of giving his actual name (Caiden), that in his head all his dialog remains as Caiden. Wouldn’t he choose to use his own choice? This seems disconnected.
Ended well – the story was complete, I wasn’t left lacking for anything else; but didn’t like that the author used the last chapter as “ten years forward”. Which, basically was a sample beginning of book two in the series. Just call it what it is – a bonus chapter from the next book. It was in no way tied to the completion of the current story. And calling it a chapter like you thought it was a final typing up of some story plot detail, was a disappointment. Sure, it got me interested in where the adventure goes next perfectly well – but not as a final chapter. Which it clearly wasn’t.
Violated one of my major pet peeves – using the word ‘beat’ I [which is extremely specific to action – when the SCRIPT says ‘take a beat’ it means to pause. If you’re not an actor, you won’t know that. And if REALLY drives me nuts to hear it used in media, (tv, movies) and written into books. Late in this book, one character looks over to another, ‘for a beat’. WHYYYY?!?!?!?!?! Please, Authors, don’t use it. Just Don’t! Nothing belittles a reader more than having to frikking google a word, in order to understand what’s happening.
A couple quotes that sung out to me – but in no way are needed in context of the story:
“Maturation means discovering all the different facets of who we feel right being and how we fit into a complex world.”
“People punish themselves when they hate who they are: saying foul words about yourself, or fighting until all of you is pulp. We hope our words will push us to be stronger, or a better self will walk away from a bloody mess, but you can’t smash yourself into shape. Own what you hate, and polish the rest of you until that hated part is outshined completely.”