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A Cold Black Wave Paperback – January 23, 2013
About the Author
Born and raised in California, Tim Scott made a move to the east coast to work as a game designer. He packed a single bag and left everything behind to start his dream job. He has been writing from an early age, and found success and community writing short stories online. He is also the author of Dustland. He lives with his wife and two children in Rhode Island.
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I also liked how the author kept the plot moving while developing the characters. Too often writers wander off into a character profile for pages and pages, leaving the reader to wonder, or maybe even forget, about the plot. The ability to intertwine both plot and character consistently throughout a story works well with me.
I couldn't put this book down. I eagerly await the sequel. I have a feeling I won't be disappointed.
The author uses excellent descriptive vocabulary and is a master with similes and metaphors. To be fair, sometimes he has put in too emphasis on description where perhaps inference from dialogue might have been a better choice, but his style works. I got a vivid picture of events and detail with effective illustrative use of prose.
The main protagonist is Josh, a 15 year old boy living on a generational star ship called the USC Westbound, rescuing the last survivors of earth. The author doesn't waste a lot of time detailing the vessel, providing clues through the plot so that the pacing is uninterrupted. Josh has been trained in the `Academy' quarter of the vessel, somewhat reminding me of the Private Military Boarding school my own 15 year old son attends except this one is on acid! It is a harsh school preparing colonist children at a young age for the rigours of new worlds because they are the last chance for the human race to survive. Our hero is not a poster boy for the school; in fact he is a discipline case wasting away in a cell. The ship, however, is in peril. A rebellion and catastrophic disease have decimated the survivors and crew. Insurgents try to steal away in the last remaining shuttles so Josh, immune to the disease, is whisked away by soldiers to fulfil his mission. Escaping in the shuttle, however, he finds his female stowaway partner is not Academy trained, and he resents the burden she will place on him.
As seen from the title page, after an unusually long cryogenic sleep, they crash-land on an earth-like planet (perhaps it is earth, but we are never told). Josh must overcome his contempt and impatience with Leah, a 17 year old quiet religious girl. I felt the author portrayed the teenagers accurately, and in time of unthinkable disaster, some people turn to God, and others blame Him. Josh has been indoctrinated to avoid romances and Leah surprises him with skills that are badly needed. The author patiently develops their relationship and expresses their typical teenage awkwardness with ease. Both Josh and Leah must over come many challenges on the new world and stand together, despite a terrible secret he hides from the Academy.
I think the writer has a strong technological background of future weapons and computer systems reflected in his descriptions of the shuttle controls and combat sequences, of which there are plenty of nail biters. He also displays outdoor knowledge of the natural world making the story realistic and exciting. I won't reveal much more of the plot, but Josh and Leah struggle to overcome horrific discoveries in the new world. The ending was just right and though I had a lot of questions about the new planet, the author concentrates on the two main characters instead of bogging down the plot with too much history or explanation.
Overall, a superb book that I highly recommend to all science fiction readers for a good read you can't put down. Typical of impatient teenage boys, there is a little swearing, but clean of overt physical contact between the sexes. When he gets back from the mud of his military academy, I will show this to my son to read.
This is not only a great story line but grammatical structure is sophisticated to a point of finally being above the level of the simpleton literature that's recently flooded the literary market.
Finally, an author on scale with the intelligence level of Asimov
and O.S. Card.
Josh, a main character, is a mystery for most of the book. It is not until 75%-80% in that we find out much of anything about Josh beyond the surface characteristics, and they are almost all negative. Josh seems to be constantly angry for no obvious reason once they reach their destination and start looking around. Josh is autocratic, will not explain anything to Leah, but bemoans that she can't do anything. He never gives her a chance. Why would he not just have a civil conversation with Leah and find out some background (so we could, too)? After all, he will be living with her for the rest of his life. The first part of the book feels like you jumped right into a running blender with no background on what's happening.
The author keeps writing almost as if the planet they are on is earth, though they don't realize it. For one example: "There was some kind of symbol or insignia...that resembled a national flag, but he didn't recognize the country." DUH. He's on an alien planet far away from anything resembling humanity. How would he recognize a flag? The general description of almost everything on this planet makes it sound like it is an earth clone, except for things like writing, symbols, and such. Even the animals and most plant life are the same. The author misses some great chances at world-building here.
Some people complain that this is one of those books with a "hidden religious agenda". For 75% of the book, there is little mention at all, other than Leah has her faith, and Josh does not. If anything, after the 75% point, it is more like Leah has a crisis of faith (as in losing it), rather than anyone doing any proselytizing whatsoever. Anyone who uses the "Faith" excuse as a reason to dislike or not read this book is being disingenuous. It is by NO MEANS a Christian Fiction book.
Overall, with the lack of depth, basic situations, and very surface feel to the characters, I think this book is skewed more to the younger end of the A audience than anything else. That being said, the simplistic plot and lack of depth bring it to being no more than a three star book for me. It is a decent story, but nowhere near a memorable one. It is trite, convenient (a duplicate earth hundreds of light years away), and structurally very loose.