Top critical review
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Decent, some issues
on November 29, 2010
First, be aware that the third book of this series is not out yet. Second, if torture/rape is a non-starter for you, look elsewhere. That stuff is not overly graphic and doesnt take up big pages, but its there. Ok, assuming your ok with these two things, lets get to the review.
I'll go over the plot a bit first. I'll provide the level of info sometimes found on a back cover, most of which is revealed in the first 10 pages. Its "safe" to read, but if you prefer to take 0 risk of the slightest spoiler, just skip the next paragraph.
Two ships fight high in the atmosphere in 1945 near Roswell and crash. Only one is discovered, and studied for 60 years. The deputy director of the project researching the ship has discovered some surprising things about it, and has his own, apparently evil, agenda. The second ship is discovered by three teens, and, for no reason other than that its necessary for the plot to move forward, they put the circlets they find inside the ship onto their heads at exactly the same time, a ship-mind connection is formed, and they learn that their ship was the good guys and the other ship is some sort of harbringer of destruction. From this beginning, we are off to the races, and treated to a mix of alien technologies, evil plots, secret agents, assassins, with some rape, torture and murder thrown in.
The book moves along fairly nicely, and is a breezy and easy read. Lots of action and the heroes are fairly likeable. A few issues knocked it down to 3 stars for me though. First, the three protagonists are teens, and there are teen romances, high school hazing and revenge. These parts of the book almost feel a little like a young adult novel -- but with the rape, torture and killings in the book, its clear that isnt the intent. Leaving aside the fact that teens + rape, torture and killing is, to say the least, an odd mix, the teen-focus comes with a level of predictability. The three protagonists are girl/boy twins and their bff, a female. You can predict several plot developments/twists from this alone.
As a 41 year old, I no longer relate that well to (mostly) goody two-shoes teens. Even though the fate of the world may be at stake, the teens would never dream of doing anything like skipping class or being late for something their parents want them to do. For example, in one scene (no spoiler, dont worry), a teacher confiscates something with potentially nightmarish consequences. Rather than just refusing to hand it over and walking out of class, the teen hands it over and (admittedly funny) hijinx are necessary to prevent total disaster. Are any teens really that slavishly bound to the rules? Maybe so, but I couldnt relate.
Another issue for me was the technology. I am *not* a hard science buff, and I didnt mind the relatively quick descriptions of the alien techs. Frankly, I usually skim that stuff anyway, so it never bothers me in books unless its excessive or totally out there. BUT when a sci-fi book jumps off from present times and describes things like the internet, cryptology and computer viruses, I apply a *somewhat* higher standard, and get annoyed if an author totally makes up his own version of these things. Cyber-punk is one thing, but that is set in the future. Here, we are apparently set in the present, but cryptology, the interet and computer viruses are not described with any realism whatsoever. I suppose this is a minor issue that may not bother everyone. However, there is one incredibly painful sequence where the teens decide they have to send an untraceable message, and come up with the most convoluted, illogical and technologically non-sensical plan of how to do it, involving a silly mix of cryptology and computer viruses.
Finally, I guess I'm a little jaded to books jumping off from modern times that feature kids discovering alien techs, secret government agencies and massive conspiracies. Its just a little harder for this type of book to grab me, because, as a well-read adult, it all feels so familiar.
The book seems popular and highly rated here on amazon, and I dont regret buying it for .99 or reading it. I did enjoy it, and it moved reasonably well. I dont think anyone is odd for giving it 4 or 5 stars. I enjoyed it to a modest degree -- I just, personally, found it a bit forgettable.