A Review of: Shards of Earth, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I had high hopes for this story. And while I did enjoy it, everything felt recycled. Nearly every bit of it I have read in other books, recently; leaving this story feeling anything but fresh. Sadly it really was a detractor for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

** Spoilers Ahead **

Aliens in a plant based form? Check. At least two recent books I have read. Traveling thru “wormholes” that need a special mind to navigate? Tired. Not only have I read this in a couple books recently, just go all the way back to Dune, for that one. Aliens in Mollusc form that are super smart? Also done. Aliens in crab/spider form? Also done before, and both in books I have read recently. Hive mind species. Tired and done. Non-organic sentient beings? Yawn….

Anyway… it was an ok story, if you can get past the fact every bit of it has been done before, in your mind to just read the story. I’m sure it’ll make a really nice movie some day.

So we have a rag tag group of ‘salvagers’ , a crew that is multi-species. Doing what salvagers do. Collect space debris for Credits, or jobs to collect specific things for people, which seems to be more the case in this story. Naturally they pick up a derelict ship, that is the intense interest of various parties, and naturally throws them into all kinds of hot water and ongoing predicament they must extract themselves from, while also getting the truth out there, in order to save the human race.

• Story pacing? Pacing is fast – this story starts in the middle, after a short prelude to set the scene for the meat of the story – and then it jumps into a fast paced action sci fi adventure. 10/10

• Story character arcs? Our two main characters Solace and Idris, both make substantial emotional, and intellectual arcs thru the pages of the story; growing learning and expanding their frames of thought. We have several strong supporting characters who also arc, and it would be hard to really say it’s just two main characters; though I think the line is there. 10/10

• Story arc? In the bigger picture, the story line does arc. The biggest view is learning the Architects are sentient, and also slaves and do not want to be the destroyers of worlds…. (Which perhaps may lead to them being freed in a subsequent book. ) There’s a lot of working pieces in this book. From different alien motives, and actions, their intelligence and superiority. Down to factions of though within the human race, such as people blindlessly hating the Partheni ‘soldiers’ ; despite the fact that they’re all alive because of the Partheni. 8/10

• Story writing quality? Easy to read, no over your head science bogging down the details. 8/10

• Story wokeness? ( tolerable / gag me) There’s a undertone of class war, and bigotry would in the story, but I guess that’s to be expected. Real life is messy, even with it’s the grander scale of many species. 5/10

• Grates against my annoyances? The recycled feeling of all the elements. 2/10

• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words). Naturally there are many made up species names, planets, etc. Nothing way too over the top for pronouncing. 5/10

• Story romance level? Story hints at a connection between Solace and Idris, but leaves out the details. It’s more of a strong tying them together, trusting, from when they first met/became close, which was in an unwritten time between the prelude and the story. Used as a suitable plot strong, and no unnecessary sex scenes. 10/10

• Story readability? While a complex tale, it was still easy to follow the story. 10/10

• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)? The story arcs, did for the most part ties up all the pertinent plot strings and finish the book. But it definitely left the end trailing open to ‘what’s coming in the next book.’ Maybe a bit too much hanging out there. 7/10

• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places? Sort of new? I mean, a planet sized Sentient Alien that is a hive mind but looks like a planet & seems impenetrable… felt different and new. But then just think about the Borg cube. So not really. 5/10

• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered? More about this connection that was formed between Solace and Idris; as so much of the story hangs on this bond. Which isn’t really given any detail so we can understand why what’s happening now, and letting them connect and trust – is there. 5/10

• Things I really liked / or didn’t like? Killing off Rollo, the captain. It felt… like ‘oh, we better kill off a couple characters here.’ I don’t feel it served the story arc, or was written well. It was a mindless throw away of a ‘main’ character. Sure people die in conflict – but let’s do a better job making it matter. (which, could also be said for the previously killed off ship member. It didn’t really feel like it counted for anything.) 2/10

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