2 out of 4 stars
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This book tells the story of Jennifer Hero, a decorated and respected soldier among her people in the far future of the 30th century.
Hero lives in a time when humans – known as Naturals – live under the suppressive rule of the Syndos, the ultra-genetically enhanced beings of the time. After uncovering a plot by the Syndos to wipe the humans off the planet, she, along with some others, devise a plan to go back in time to the 27th century to correct the anomaly that brought about the Syndos' lack of humanity.
Jennifer, however, is grieving her long lost love and instead travels alone to the 21st century to start afresh. While there, she encounters the reality of a vastly different time as her views on issues such as identity, sexuality, culture and society are constantly butting heads with her 30th century thinking.
When I first read the book description, I was excited to read the book. And true to its premise, Mark Kingston's 30th Century: Escape starts off strong. The first few pages are quick to portray the protagonist, Jennifer Hero, as a leader, a Captain, and someone with a strong sense of direction and purpose. I really liked that. A picture of a strong female leader and warrior who is still every bit as feminine as should be is a breath of fresh air.
The first few chapters are just as good as the novel's opening as well.
However, after Jennifer makes her first contact with people in the 21st century, things start to go downhill. And quickly too.
There are a few other things I like about this book.
First, from the way the sentences are constructed, you can tell that the author is not a newbie writer. I did a little research on him and confirmed that he has a strong writer's portfolio.
Secondly, I do like the positives of Jennifer's personality. The way she doesn't devolve to condescending behavior in a century and a time that show her glaring technological and cognitive advancements. How she handles and treats people, even though she has to lie sometimes so no one discovers she's from the future. She is definitely the best written character in my opinion.
This is where the plaudits end for me unfortunately.
While I respect Mark Kingston's writing ability, it is clear early on in the book that his expertise isn't fiction.
This is very evident in a lot of the conversations; most of them feel very mechanical and unrelatable. The attempt at emotional elaborations didn't really do it for me. They didn't read smoothly or sound authentic, making them hard for me to believe.
It also feels as if the author let his love for science and history get out of control, sadly at the expense of such a potentially good story.
I mean, who dedicates an entire chapter of a novel to a dissertation?! Kill me now!
Many other sections in the book contain numerous scientific references and document Jennifer's expeditions with her researcher friends, often in painful detail.
I also feel like the book had way too many characters, especially since the ones that were central to the story were not sufficiently developed. It was difficult to keep up with all of them.
The novel's attempt at sex scenes were shockingly bad. I'm not a fan of sex scenes and even I could see that. Erotica is supposed to be stylish, seductively descriptive, imaginative, and sensual. The sex scenes in this book felt raw and graphic, leaving nothing to the imagination. They also felt random and removed from the story.
It seemed like I was back in science class with the use of dead and flaccid words like penis – repeatedly so – while describing a sex scene. I could almost picture my high school science teacher pointing out the different body parts on a digital rendering of the human body.
With every chapter I got to, the chapter titles made the novel feel more and more like an academic text. They read like sign posts or like the verbatim transcription of a video documentary. The book would have been better off without them.
Also, there were some pictures that I suspect were intended to aid us in painting a mental picture of the story. Sadly, they were simply disruptive and added nothing to the experience of the book.
Also, there were some grammatical errors in the book. They are very few though and look more like typos than editing errors or mistakes from the author.
Starting this book, I anticipated I would have a blast with it. Unfortunately I can only give it 2 out of 4 stars.
Although I didn't enjoy the book, I can't give it 1 star because frankly, I've read worse. Much worse. Plus, the author's writing, although not compatible with fiction, is excellent. There has to be some points for that.
Still, I can't give it a higher rating because the entire book feels like the author couldn't really decide if he was writing a novel or a scientific publication. I can't imagine many people will enjoy it.
Also, this is the first book in a three-book series, so maybe the author was saving most of the story for the sequels? If that's the case, then it was a really bad idea.
This book may not bore everyone though. If you're an extreme lover of history, archaeology, and all things science and you don't mind an avalanche of science speak and a documentary-like novel structure, then this is right up your alley.
30th Century: Escape (General Audience Edition)
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