The Patriots of Mars

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. Jeff Faria’s sweeping space opera is bursting at the seams with living and breathing characters, crackling dialogue, exciting technology, and a plausible, daring futuristic setting. The strength of the work lies in its relentless world building, with every nook and cranny carefully considered. From the corporate higher tiers, to the dark underbelly. From the polished bot slaves to the wayward teenagers forging their destinies in the dirt. It’s clear that the author has patiently developed the finer points of this universe, right down to the tiniest grain of martian sand. The story begins with Josh, a gifted teenager struggling to find his place in this universe. However, the tale quickly branches off to incorporate world founders, antagonists and movers and shakers. As a result of the sheer scope, the story feels a little unfocused in the beginning stages, but it finds ground again when we’re thrust back into Josh’s world. We learn early on of Josh’s difficult upbringing and understand his struggle to find meaning and purpose in a chaotic world. Yet amid such a great ocean of characters, Josh can often become lost in the waves, so it’s always good to find him again. This reader would have enjoyed more time spent with this important character, and a chance to get closer inside his head. Faria is a talented writer; the book is packed full of memorable quotes, and his dialogue sparkles with believability and intensity. At times, the pace slows as Faria handles the unenviable task of juggling world building and plot building. I can’t help feeling that the book could...

Lacuna

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. A well paced, entertaining science fiction adventure. Lacuna boasts a strong female lead, an engaging premise, and decent world building, but the book staggers in some curious design choices. Captain Liao can let her emotions get the best of her, but sometimes trusting her heart and her gut can yield greater results than following military procedure to the letter. Yet she’s rigid where she needs to be, precise, cold and calculated when necessary. To make captain, as a Chinese lady, she’s been fighting her way to the top of the ladder for her entire life. Against the battle fire of the Toralli alien army, she may prove to be the one immovable object in the galaxy. Author David Adams’ world is fascinating, and he generously raises the stakes, and keeps the twists and turns coming. Lacuna is at its best when humanity is on the edge of a crumbling cliff, Earth’s few hulking battleships the last line of defense in a black, star filled world. The book is at its weakest when it plays for humor and not always succeeds. Summer Rowe, a scientific adviser placed on board Captain Liao’s ship, is so inconceivably unprofessional that I don’t believe my imagination could have been suspended any further. She flies the flag for comic relief in an otherwise largely serious science fiction affair, but ultimately fails. Her popular culture references may draw laughs from sci-fi fans but it was a step too much for this reader. I’d go as far to say that she is the one glaring false note in the...