3 out of 4 stars
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Steele Chronicles: Colony Crisis by Andrew Utsogn is a science fiction adventure that spans several disparate storylines. One of them focuses on Carl, a xeno wrangler and former marine who gets tangled up in the plans of some very powerful people. Another is about Tatyana, a runaway with a mysterious data chip entrusted to her by her father. Finally, there's a depiction of a reptilian alien species' last stand against their mortal enemies, the Kluj.
I wasn't really sure what to make of this book's worldbuilding. The human cultures in this book are nearly identical to their current Earth counterparts, and ultimately, I don't think the core tenets of the story would have changed much at all if it had merely taken place on present-day Earth. The characters even line up with action tropes: Carl is the prototypical violent ex-military hero, while Tatyana is a nearly perpetual damsel in distress. It was certainly out of the ordinary for a science fiction book, but whether this is good or bad depends on your personal preferences.
With that said, as an action story, this book holds up quite well. The fight scenes are numerous without becoming repetitive or stale, and the sense of tension is carried through quite well despite the frequent shifts in perspective. It was certainly satisfying to watch Carl take out ever-increasing numbers of people. The writing style itself is unobtrusive, though I did catch a handful of typos, mostly pertaining to punctuation.
The biggest weakness of this book is that it is very difficult to follow. The three storylines don't really have much to do with each other at all, and while I'm sure they will connect more in future books, it makes this book feel like it's incomplete at best. Tatyana's story, though it was my favorite, consisted almost entirely of things just happening to her, without much real agency on her part. This made the narrative feel disjointed and unwieldy.
At the end of the day, while I would be more comfortable with a rating of 2.5 out of 4 stars, I think this book still deserves 3 out of 4 stars. It's a good read if you enjoy action books with science fiction elements, though it might be worth waiting until more books in the series are out, as I expect the narrative threads will be tied together more satisfactorily in later books. If you like science fiction books for their creative worldbuilding and scientific lore, this book probably isn't for you.
Steele Chronicles: Colony Crisis
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