4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry is the story of a pilot who uncovers a vast conspiracy. Brooke Davis lives in a future where mankind has colonized much of the solar system out to Saturn. The United Nations acts as a unifying government, but its coalition is falling apart as separatist groups want independence. Conflict escalates until a new threat emerges. Davis discovers the new threat is a scam, a scam that promises a better future for mankind. Davis, however, isn’t sure she wants a future built on a lie.
Spry crafted a story that was interesting, with characters who felt real. Brooke Davis isn’t the usual infallible hero who does no wrong. She is a broken individual. Though it never comes up in the story, she has the feel of someone suffering with P.T.S.D. When she visits her twin sister, she struggles to open up her feelings. Along the trip there, she’s looking all around, expecting trouble that never comes while on the civilian transport. She shuns the attention when people on the street recognize her as a “hero.” It was one of the elements of the story I enjoyed the most, that Spry was able to craft such an element without being direct and forward about it.
One of the things I disliked the most, however, was the predictability of the story. It felt like the author wanted the reader to figure things out, but it felt to me like the clues Spry left were a little too direct. It became frustrating with how slow Davis seemed when she was presented with those same clues. It becomes even worse when you realize the story follows the same basic plot of stories like Alan Moore’s Watchmen. I would have liked to see a little more surprise in how everything unfolded.
One element that I both liked and disliked was the author’s focus on diversity. Brooke Davis is a mixed-race character, with a Japanese Mother and an American father. While it’s noble to create a science fiction hero that isn’t a white man, in drawing the kind of attention to it that Spry does, he inadvertently showcases the lack of diversity in his overall universe. For a story set approximately two hundred years in the future, it seems the global, ethnic migration we’re seeing in our time mysteriously grinds to a halt over the next two hundred years. The future Davis lives in is one where a mixed race individual sticks out in a country where mixed race individuals are common today.
Still, it is a subject that spurned my thoughts on the matter. I read a lot of science fiction, and watch a lot more on television. Many times I don’t agree with a position taken or how that position is presented, but if the creator gets me thinking, then he or she succeeded. Spry succeeded in driving the conversation in my head, and that was what I enjoyed about it.
If you’re a casual science fiction fan who reads only for the adventure, then you may be turned off by the social messages presented. If you’re one of those few bothered when identity politics is front-and-center, then this book is not for you. Serious science fictions fans – those who enjoy it, social messages and all – will enjoy Beyond Cloud Nine. It is an excellent book for a book club discussion, since the issues I had with it felt more like points for a discussion than actual flaws. Even those obsessed with an author’s editing will be pleased with the negligible errors in the text. This book earns a solid 4 out of 4 stars from me.
Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga Book 1)
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like jjmainor's review? Post a comment saying so!