I’ve had something on my mind the last couple of months. It’s easy, as a reviewer, to dole out ratings for books. Saying this one is good, and this one is bad, and this one was just kinda meh. It’s also frequently easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every book that is published should be the “best book that it can be”. I’m also an engineer though, and so the old saying that, “If you want to finish the project, you’re going to have to kill the engineer” (meaning that the engineer will keep working on a project for forever until it’s perfect) floats around in my mess of a brain too. I think this has produced somewhat of a scarcity mentality in my head though. Because, honestly, there is a huge market out there for stories that I’m going to think are perfectly mediocre. That don’t ring any of my bells or wave any flags — even lots that don’t ring bells or wave flags for anybody — because some people just like to read something that makes them forget for a time. They don’t even want to think about it very hard. Just read. Now, I’m not exactly one of those kind of people. I expect goodness when I sit down to read. This likely stems from the fact that I read as much as I do, I’m always wanting to read more, and I never feel like I have enough time for it. Which means I don’t like finding anything mediocre about what I’m ingesting. Still, there’s obviously a market for stories like that, and I think this is one of those.
AFTERSHOCKS (Amazon) is the first book in a new science fiction series by Marko Kloos. He’s one of the authors on George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards consortium, and has been publishing with 47North (Amazon imprint) for quite some time now.
The story starts after the war has already ended. Five years after the signing of the treaty that brought peace to the six worlds of the Gaia system. The inhabitants of the planet Gretia, instigators of the war, are still trying to come to a position of stability amidst the sanctions, restrictions, and oversight imposed on them as part of the treaty. The story is told from four POV characters:
Major Aden Robertson is a Gretian Military special forces POW that is released from a Rhodian prison, given some financial assistance as recompense for their work during imprisonment, and then released. His goal is to travel to his home planet of Gretia, but the journey will take some time and patience, for he’s not exactly welcomed into the general population of Rhodia.
Sergeant Idina Choudhary is a section leader for a group of the Palladian occupation force running guard duty on Gretia. Everything is business as usual, until her platoon suddenly comes under fire from sources that appear to be hidden behind cloaking technology.
Lieutenant Commander Dunstan Park of the Rhodian navy is the captain of a military space vessel protecting a large field of old war ships. An anomaly distracts them for a short period of time, and suddenly someone is blowing up all of the old war ships. His superiors don’t take the lack of protection lightly.
Solveig Ragnar is a young Gretian woman recently handed a high-ranking position in the very large company that her father owned before Gretia lost the war. It was stripped from his control, and any in his family older than 18 at the time of the takeover are restricted from ever working for the company again. Luckily, Solveig was just younger than that, and now she’s finally made her way into the company.
In general, there is only a very limited amount of characterization and world-building present in this story. Although it’s written well-enough that the words carried me along without much effort. Each of the storylines is pretty distinct and removed from one another;however, a couple of them make mild connections as the book’s pages wind down to a close. Despite this fact, we never really learn what is going on. Why did Sergeant Choudhary’s soldiers get attacked? What were they trying to accomplish? Who attacked them? Why did all of those warships get blown up? There are several other attacks that are perpetrated upon the main characters, but none of them really had any kind of explanation, so they seemed kind of random and pointless. I mean, action, right? Maybe that works for some. Just not me.
By the end of the book it didn’t feel like any questions had been answered. From the description on Amazon, Aden seems to be the main character. His character was the one that I felt really took a long time to get going. So much time with him is spent on the mundane. Getting clothes. Finding a mobile device. Finding passage back to Gretia. Travel in the ship. Dealing with the fallout of a pirate attack on the ship. He doesn’t really have a lot of drive. Well, very few of the characters do, from what I could tell, but then again the characterization was pretty sparse. They were all very reactionary for this part of the story, and so their individual plights never really pulled me in or had me wanting any more than what I was being fed.
A military science fiction novel that starts five years after the war is over, AFTERSHOCKS is a mediocre novel that accomplishes little and lacks an ending.
The most difficult part of the story was the fact that the story didn’t have an ending. Like, at all. Thing just stopped. That’s something I’ll never understand. Regardless of whether you put time into a story when you’re building it up and figuring everything out in the development phase, you have to have something that feels like an ending at the end of a book. Stuff like that always leaves a real bad taste in my mouth. This lack of an ending made this book feel more like the first third of an especially over-written 900 page novel. Not exactly something that I’d go looking to read. But if you have history with this author, and you’re okay with the way he does things, this isn’t necessarily a bad book.
Decently written, moderately interesting, and holding potential for the beginning of another war, AFTERSHOCKS is a book that will likely engage many of the author’s previous readers, but doubtfully pull in many new ones. This one definitely didn’t win me over, but then again… I’m kind of an elitist. 🙂
- Recommended Age: 15+ for violence and some profanity
- Language: Infrequent profanity but occasionally strong
- Violence: Some war-violence and threat to life
- Sex: A few mild references