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Song of a Dead Star Paperback – April 1, 2015
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About the Author
Zamil Akhtar is an indie science fantasy author and blogger living a location-free lifestyle. He can be found in Boston, Dubai, or Manila depending on the time of year. Of Pakistani-heritage, he grew up in the Middle East and moved to Western Massachusetts when he was thirteen, and his varied upbringing colors his fiction. He has a BBA in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts and an MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. His loves are videogames, science-fiction and fantasy novels, HBO dramas, and Southeast Asia.
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Top customer reviews
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Akhtar combines beautiful prose with a riveting and mind-bending story that keeps you asking questions until the very last page. This book does more than just tell an incredible story - it sets the stage for a fascinating new universe that I hope the author continues to explore and share with us.
This book is a fantastic read and a great example of how much more the scifi/fantasy genre has to offer. If you're tired of the same laser guns, plasma cannons, spaceships, wizards, orcs, lords, and knights - this book is a must-read.
There were quite a few typos throughout the story and the author would benefit from hiring an editor. This was particularly an issue with homophones, wherein "you're" was used in place of a proper "your" or "sowed" was used in place of "sewn" or "sewed" and so forth.
The plot is convoluted. I read the entire thing, and don't fully understand. The Haemians, the Sons, the Elkarians, the Shirmians, the Almerians... there were so many groups and cultures presented, but they weren't particularly fleshed out beyond the Almerians and the "fish" folks in the first few chapters, to set up a seemingly racial or classist conflict that is muddied by the confusion and never really fleshed out, and the way some of the cultures are confusingly referenced, until it's hard to tell who's who.
The primary subplot between Kav and Layla is great, but later confused. Also, Chapter preludes between Merv and Zauri confuse the matter even more with cryptic comments that later make sense to a degree, but never really fit, and the author drops them partway through the book.
There are some anime and game references strewn about if you're looking for them, some more obvious than others. Just a little inside reference to those in the know, but they don't really impact the story.
All told, this book is about a lot of people fighting for reasons I don't understand, with factions that kind of feel mushed together and with motives I don't fully comprehend, as well as two lovers who... well, I won't spoil it, but suffice to say, it really never concludes satisfyingly, and you're left hanging by more confusing threads. Also, the... I guess main antagonists (sort of), the magi, are never really fleshed out.
Even the main blurb, the description of the book is...off.
"Only the Magi and their ability to turn sunshine into magical energy can stop them. Granted the same power by the firefly, Kav must either kill the Magi to reunite with his wife, or let go of his longing for the sake of Eden and its people"
Yeah... that never really... oh nevermind.
I would like to say I didn't like this because I didn't "get" it, but I do. In fact, the book is full of tropes, primarily from fantasy and JRPG video games, but with an darker, and more melancholic atmosphere than most. As it goes on, there's little to hope for. The plot's just overly-convoluted, and hard to follow. Every time a character does something even in passing, the reader is treated to a flashback of varying levels of relevance before we jump back to the present, and with all the back and forth, the story's timeline is utterly confusing and difficult to really get into. This happens every single chapter, leading all the way up to the climax.
And the climax itself... well, there are cliffhangers, and then there is "let me smash your face in with a brick so I can end this because I'm tired of writing." The ending is so abrupt that I couldn't believe it was over. It just...ended. Pretty much mid-paragraph, it was that abrupt. You're expecting to turn the page and finish and... there's nothing. Very little actual conclusion, much confusion left, and even the plot point that was addressed in the final moments was left dangling.
Suffice to say I was disappointed. The book had promise in the first few chapters, but just became a chaotic mess as it went on. If the author were to write a second book, I might consider it to resolve the cliffhanger, but I will more likely let it pass. As I started, it was a good premise, but the execution and chaotic worldbuilding just made it run together like soup, until little made sense anymore.
It would be a 5 star book for me if not for the fact that it ends far too soon and on a pretty big cliffhanger. While leaving a cliffhanger to transition into the next book is great, the end of this book answers none of the questions that are brought up throughout which makes it feel incomplete. Despite that fact though it is still VERY much worth the read and even more so if/when the story is continued.