2 out of 4 stars
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Enter a universe featuring space, adventure, and a terrifying threat to the galaxy. Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty is filled with action from the very first page. Beginning on the planet Lanyr, the world of a young security guard named Rynah shatters when the magical crystal with the power to keep it in one piece is stolen. In the ensuing chaos of the planet erupting, Rynah escapes on Solaris, a spaceship left to her by her grandfather, and embarks on a journey to seek both revenge and save her home.
For me, Solaris Seethes is a tale of wasted potential.
The book gets off to a rocky start with writing that is immature in quality. As characters appear, it becomes quickly apparent that the dialogue feels forced and robotic. In several instances I was introduced to a seemingly important character whom I never saw again. I felt rushed through the entire book, almost as though the author didn't have the desire to fill in all the necessary world and character building.
Within the first few pages, it became immediately clear to me that McNulty's biggest mistake came from her inability to properly introduce characters, creatures, and the world itself. Readers are thrown directly into the scene as Rynah arrives at work, newly engaged, with no prior information about her or the man she is to marry. It is for this reason that his later introduction to the story lacks the emotional punch McNulty appears to be aiming for. Almost directly as a result I found myself feeling nothing for the vast majority of her characters. If a book misses the mark on making me care about two pivotal characters at the start, it's quite difficult for the writer to snap back later in the story.
But perhaps the most disappointing factor of the novel exists in the opportunities for character development and world building that McNulty threw away entirely for the sake of rushing her plot. She gives her readers very short asides to explain the world and characters, sacrificing a great deal of potential in favor of quickly and conveniently getting to her main point. This ultimately leaves the story feeling somewhat unbelievable.
The characters are annoying, underdeveloped, and unrealistic. Not only did some regularly act in ways that seemed out of character from the way they had originally been presented, but several characters adhered to a rather wishy-washy persona, switching back and forth between two often vastly different characterizations. It felt as though the author couldn't make up her mind on who they were meant to be. I did not get to know the characters, but was instead told what they were like and why they were that way. Character development was minimal, and for some it was non-existent.
The surroundings and creatures of the world were described abruptly. It almost seemed as though McNulty wanted to get them out of the way and include small, unrelated ideas simply because she liked them. Much of the information she gave later went forgotten or unused. From the creative concepts for characters and creatures to the plot itself, Solaris Seethes misses every possible chance for improvement.
Finally, I was quite bothered by the scene in which one of the white characters is described as using "black sludge" to disguise his skin tone. It may seem like such a small thing, but considering the level of racism this world has faced and the damaging aspects that black face has had in our history, I don't think it's as small as some might believe. If I could only change one thing in this book, it would be this moment.
McNulty did an excellent job of writing action packed battles, however, the benefits of those scenes are few and easily lost when the action begins to get repetitive about halfway through the book. I really adored the premise for Solaris Seethes and truly wish I liked it more than I do. The plot was promising and while I certainly have a number of problems with the writing, I was excited to learn what was going to happen next. McNulty had a brilliant idea, she just had trouble executing it.
Overall, I'm rating this book 2 out of 4 stars. I definitely still believe that there is a lot of potential here and I'm sure others will enjoy it more than I have. At the end of the day, I think Solaris Seethes is a prime candidate for a rewrite.
Solaris Seethes (Solaris Saga book 1)
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