In an effort to “catch up”, I’ve compressed several books into a single post. I hope this will be the last of my omnibus reviewing.
The Kassa Gambit by M.C. Planck – Held back by an ending that doesn’t quite capitalize on the exceptional beginnings, Kassa Gambit remains a very entertaining debut effort. It works best as a narrative of distrust between the two central characters, dealing with one another disingenuously and often convincing themselves of their own paranoia. When the story moves beyond that interplay the plot doesn’t hold up that well, but it’s really not any less fun for it.
Nexus by Ramaz Naam – It’s pretty clear that Naam is attempting to blow his readers’ minds with his idea for nano-virus telepathy. I won’t argue, it is a pretty cool idea, but beyond first blush when it gets into the actual telling of a story, Nexus ends up reading an awful lot like a half dozen other Angry Robot science fiction books I’ve read over the last couple years. In other words, it’s good, not great, playing a lot more off the thriller genre than hard science fiction. Ok.
The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian – Social engineering! Genetic engineering! Dystopia! Oh my! Billed as akin to Hunger Games, Office of Mercy never quite connects to that degree. It is, however, much more well thought out, delving into the kinds of mental warfare that becomes necessary to allow for a society that preys on the many to sustain the few. A worthy addition to the expanding dystopian catalog but not one that’s remotely ground breaking. Ok.
The Holders by Julianna Scott – Sometimes young adult fiction is like Pinky & the Brain. It’s ostensibly for kids, but the real meat of the content is geared to an adult audience. Scott’s novel, The Holders, is a young adult novel totally written and intended for young adults. Can adults enjoy it? A bit, but only in a cursory way. There’s a romance that’s too easy and a school that’s too tidy. However, I say with confidence that it’s a novel I would hand my daughter and feel good about my choice. Recommended for the right audience.
Quintessence by David Walton – If the TV show LOST got together with the Age of Discovery, Walton’s new novel, Quintessence would be the result. Of course, that comparison brings some baggage with it, namely that like LOST, Walton doesn’t quite fully deliver. However, the discussion of proof versus faith and nature versus science is the heart of Quintessence, and very successful therein. The narrative moves briskly, making for a very entertaining jaunt. Overall, it’s a strong book, but falls short of any lasting impact. Recommended.