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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Chris Randolph writes a pretty good sci-fi tale, along with the requisite aliens, new technology obtained by man, and the typical conflict between the aliens and mankind.

I judge my science fiction on a modified version of the Baen criteria, where the future technology has to be somewhat believable, if you have aliens they are not too gross and have names you can pronounce, and the overall plot / story lines have to have substance. Randolph hits it on most of these fronts, although I will say there were one heck of a lot of species of aliens.

Without having a spoiler, overall I think the story is pretty good and there is obviously an ending setup for a good sequel - I'd like to see how things play out if there is a sequel as I would buy it. I do think the last third of the book appeared rushed as there really wasn't much follow-up with the Marcus Donovan character as we are left with an unexplained year gap in the events, you go from a fairly moderate pace to rushing through each chapter with one central character, as well as no follow-up with the original bad guys.

I originally picked this up for free during a Kindle promotion and, as I type this review I see the pricing in the Amazon Kindle Store is now $3.99 - I think you will get that much and more value, and if you're a science fiction fan you may want to give this one a shot. Here's to hoping there is a sequel!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2011
I don't often do book reviews any more. As a writer myself, I found that I tend to get myself in trouble with them. Either people think I'm sucking up if I give a four or five star review, or they think I'm slamming a fellow writer if I give a three or less. However, this book is simply awesome, and I have decided that I will have to adopt a new policy - I will continue to buy as many books as I want, but I will only review those to which I can in good conscience give a five start review.

"Stars Rain Down" is one of those books. It was very well written, with great characters and plot. Editing was good, and I found myself lost in the story. My only complaint is that the sequel doesn't exist. I can only hope that the author rectifies that situation in the near future. :)

I have added this book to my "Books I Recommend" list on my website.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2011
I've been experimenting with reading low-priced (presumably self-published) SF e-books to indulge in the genre, especially, "hard" SF. Many of these volumes have been written with such self-conscious and amateurish style that the indulgence has felt more like a penance. So, like some of the other reviewers I was pleasantly surprised by this engaging SF yarn, even though it is in the flat, "military SF" style. The story moves rapidly and compellingly even though it exploits many SF invasion tropes. Unfortunately, the story changes in character and rapidly loses momentum about half-way. I found myself using the Kindle's rapid scroll feature to just plow through the remainder to see which way it was going and then unsurprisingly found an obvious lead-in to a sequel. Perhaps a sequel would explain the leaden last half. This is the first novel for the author and he will not be the first to improve with age.

Three stars for 1/2 book of quick evanescent entertainment and the promise of a Practice Effect
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
In Randolph's not too distant future, mankind has established a colony on Mars and developed space travel to a somewhat better level than we have today, but a lot remains the same. In the beginning of the book, we follow Jack Hernandez, search and rescue specialist, as he and his team makes extraordinary humanitarian efforts, and Marcus Donovan, astronomer and problem solver, who has spent years of his life searching for a mysterious object sometimes appearing in the asteroid field beyond Mars.

After getting an extraordinarily clear picture of the object that has been taunting him for so long, Marcus lies his way into an expedition to explore the asteroids. It's an adventure of a lifetime, the dream of a lifetime, and what awaits him is beyond anything he could have imagined. Oddly enough, there is no response from Earth when the group tries to report.

Meanwhile, Jack has been sent out on an emergency mission, and finds himself in a crashing helicopter. Once on the ground, there is nothing to be seen but dust and debris. The unthinkable has happened; the planet has been invaded, and all our weapons, cities, and technology are gone in the wink of an eye. Jack, who has always been a man of peace, a man living to help others, finds himself fighting not only for his own life, but for the survival of the human race.

Both men find themselves in for more than they ever expected, and in the end, purity of heart, faith, and empathy will decide the fate of both the survivors and the planet itself.

I have been looking forward to this book for quite some time, and I wasn't disappointed. Randolph paints out believable characters in a captivating and thought-provoking story. The first night reading the book, I kept telling myself, "Just one more chapter." Of course, one more chapter turned into another one, and one more after that, and I kept reading until my eyes couldn't stay open any longer.

The ending leaves some questions unanswered, and I'm hoping this means we'll see a sequel. "Stars Rain Down" is an excellent book by an excellent author!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Note: This review was originally published at Red Adept Reviews on November 18, 2011.

Overall: 4 stars

Plot/Storyline: 4

The science fiction beginning hooked me almost immediately, with the destruction of the ancient Somari race in an intergalactic war, and the discovery by Earth scientists of a strange object (think "2001: A Space Odyssey") located in the asteroid belt. Before long, the aliens who destroyed the Somari were attacking Earth with a vengeance. Two parallel stories developed from this: the exploration of the strange object, and the defense of Earth from the invaders.

It was a great beginning, but the second half of the story was not quite as compelling for me as the first half was. For one thing, the extraterrestrial aliens (the Nefrem) who invaded Earth included several species of creatures instead of a single race, as most readers would expect. This was certainly imaginative, but it strayed a bit too far from the typical sci-fi norm for me.

The story included a brief reference to "Mongo," which sharp-eyed readers will recognize as the name of the fictional planet where Flash Gordon battled with forces of the evil ruler Ming the Merciless. And in light of my previous comment, I acknowledge that Mongo was inhabited by several species of intelligent beings.

One of the story lines was the exploration and exploitation of Zebra-One, the strange object found in the asteroid belt. Discovering Zebra-One and determining the object's purpose for being in the solar system was an intriguing story in itself.

The action moved along quickly, with the two parallel stories converging in a big climax. The ending was satisfying but did not tie up all the loose ends, especially the behavior of one mysterious character who played a key role in the story. According to the book's subtitle, this is the first volume of a series, and I assume these questions will be answered in subsequent volumes. In any case, the book does work as a standalone.

Character Development: 4 stars

The principal characters were Dr. Marcus Donovan, the astronomer who led the mission to explore Zebra-One, the alien object in the asteroid belt; and Jack Hernandez, leader of an emergency response search and rescue unit. Both were unlikely leaders in Earth's battle to survive and defeat the Nefrem attackers, but each of them became a hero in their own way. Jack was especially unlikely, since he was a pacifist by nature, preferring to save lives instead of taking them.

One issue I had with Jack was that in a very crucial moment, he had an opportunity to change the course of the humans' struggle against the Nefrem, and he made a decision that just wasn't plausible to me. Jack's explanation for his action wasn't entirely illogical, considering his background, but I just couldn't imagine anyone who had witnessed the slaughter of billions of people behaving as he did.

Both Marcus and Jack had budding romances with females on their teams, but these relationships were not developed in depth in the story.

Most characters were believable and likeable, although the members of Jack's combat unit were largely stereotypical gung-ho types found in many military stories.

Writing style: 4 1/4 stars

The story is told in the third person point of view. Sentence structure was generally good, descriptions were clear, even vivid when describing battle scenes, and the story unfolded smoothly as the two parallel stories gradually converged.

Editing: 3 1/2 stars

A proper proofreading would have corrected a number of punctuation errors, missing words, and other typos.
[Note: I reviewed a prepublication copy of the book submitted by the author, who may have since corrected the typos that I saw.]

Stars Rain Down is a novel with 4,920 Kindle locations. Lending and text-to-speech are enabled.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
I agree with other reviewers regarding the overall pace and ending of this novel. Plot starts a bit slowly, builds promise in the middle, but ends quickly in a jumbled rushed and incomplete storyline. No hint of a sequel.

Lots of promise with an unsatisfactory ending.


I see feedback from author that a sequel is forthcoming. That information was not obvious in the kindle version I downloaded. However that would greatly change my view of the ending. As I stated initially, the mid portion of the story was interesting and promising. Knowing now there is a sequel would alter my view of somewhat abrupt and unsatisfactory ending as a stand alone novel. I enjoyed this storyline well enough to try the sequel when complete.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2012
Stars Rain down makes me wonder what is an amateur writer. This book held me in its grip after the first ten pages. I've read plenty of SF in my 74 years and this was great. I will say I had to re-read the last three chapters over because of the character morphing but the story was so good that even the re-read was exciting.
The story seems to leave room for a sequel, so I'm looking forward to more work by Chris J. Randolph.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2010
After picking this up I ended up reading it quickly in four extended sittings, and greatly enjoyed myself. It's a fast paced adventure with some interesting and believable characters interacting on a grand scale with forces that are often beyond their imagining. I am looking forward to more from this universe, as I think this book has really laid a strong foundation for some great science fiction and adventure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2010
This is a great read - characters to care about, really unexpected plot twists, unusual and well thought out concepts. Strongly following in the footsteps of both hard science fiction and space opera traditions. I wouldn't have found this one without the initial creative commons distribution, and I'm definitely looking forward to the author's next work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have to admit that 2/3 of the way through this book I would have given it a 5 star review. It moved slowly but it was interesting and well thought out. The characters were interesting and you begin to relate to their frustration and pain over a decimating war that killed billions of humans in a few days.

Spoiler Alert:

I almost lost interest when the protagonist in the book leads a team into one of the alien's major strong holds with a small team if soldiers and has within his power to destroy one of the major alien craft that has become a city on the surface of the Earth and possibly turn the war around. He stops at the last second and threatens to kill one of his friends and his own teammate if he proceeds to destroy the craft and the city because he felt sorry for an alien child that looks like a hippo. I am sorry but these aliens just murdered billions in cold blood without warning and show no remorse. They continue to mop up the human survivors that they can find with vengeance and without mercy. Not following through with the mission and perhaps saving hundreds of thousands of human lives is just inexcusable.

End spoiler alert:

The second item is that I felt the end of the story was just rushed to completion and for me it ended in a jumbled mess of a story. It contains some strange twists and just seemed incomplete. It was a good start to a story but it ended abruptly and it just seemed that the author didn't know how to finish the book. There may be a sequel but I am not sure it I would pay a lot for the book based on my experiences reading this one.
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