2 out of 4 stars
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In Project Tau, by Jude Austin, college student Kalin Taylor so desperately wants to join a frat that he agrees to break into a top-secret government base to take pictures of their mutant military project, Project Tau. What Kalin fails to realize is that the government is not about to let just anyone walk into their base unscathed. Trapped within their scientific grasp, Kalin must figure out how to escape before his humanity or his life is taken from him. This book is a wild ride of sci-fi and soft horror that could appeal to almost any adult interested in trying science fiction for the first time.
What I like about this book is the philosophical story elements. Not only is the plot original, but it also provokes moralistic issues. Austin writes about concepts like what are the limits of human testing, and at what point do humans stop being human? She does a great job of using characters to vocalize these ideas, so they don’t sound preachy. I enjoyed thinking through these questions with the characters. This book also doesn’t get too technical with its sci-fi elements. While some people might have enjoyed learning about all of the different mechanisms and technicalities involved in this world, I appreciate that the author builds the world around the plot.
I didn’t like how all the characters are unlikable. While I was supposed to feel bad for Kalin, I felt like his character falls flat in description and development. His dialogue is mostly swearing at scientists, which is reasonable considering his situation. From start to end he just seems to lack any redeeming qualities. Besides Kalin, I didn’t enjoy most of the other characters, especially the females. In general, they aren’t very important to the story and are only used to draw sympathy or to insult. The issue with shallow characters might stem from the omniscient narration, which takes the reader to the minds of all the different scientists. Most of them talk about random events in their life that don’t pertain to the main story. Maybe in the next installment, the plots from the different characters will be tied together somehow.
I would rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I think the concept of the story was thrilling, but with the very many grammatical errors and the lack of character depth, I wasn’t impacted strongly by the book. I still enjoyed seeing how Kalin would handle his situation and the book’s philosophical elements. However, there are so many dislikable and underdeveloped characters, including the main character, so it’s hard to find someone to root for while reading. While that may have been part of the message of the book, I wish I had gotten to know the main character better.
Project Tau would be a great book for adults who want to read sci-fi that isn’t too descriptive or technical. I would recommend this book for people above the age of 18, as there are a lot of adult themes and language including some mentions of rape. I also think the philosophical aspects wouldn’t be that appealing to a younger audience. This is a very male-dominating book, so it might appeal more to men than women. If someone is looking for a fun, plot-driven read, this would be a good pick. It might not be the best pick for someone interested in extremely detailed or developed science fiction.
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