3 out of 4 stars
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Journey to the Andromeda Galaxy by Steve Kristensen is a science fiction adventure story that follows Soid and his friends Jonah, Dulmer, Jelena, and I.Q. They live on a futuristic Earth, where interplanetary travel by humans is still practically impossible. Research done by Soid's uncle promises to change that, though. When he seeks out Soid's help keeping his findings from falling into the wrong hands, Soid and his friends must escape through a portal to an alien world. On their journey to return home, they discover the truth about the portal, Soid's uncle, and the denizens of the alien planet they've found themselves on.
This book's greatest strength is its worldbuilding, as is to be expected from a science fiction novel. The Earth where Soid lives is at once familiar and unusual, and the narrative did a great job of conveying what Soid's daily life was like before he went through the portal without ever becoming boring. The world they find themselves in, Xelia, creates a unique and diverse set of challenges for the characters, from mood-altering storms to a boiling hot river cutting through a desert. The Xelians also have a culture that's very fleshed out, complete with its own conflicts and undercurrents.
Perhaps more engaging, though, were the characters. Giving adequate development to every member of an ensemble cast is challenging, to say nothing of making them memorable, and despite introducing a few too many people into the mix, this book managed to do both. For example, Jonah, a talented architecture student who was extremely ill on Earth, finds himself completely healthy on Xelia and must decide if he really wants to return home at all. The group of friends often argue amongst themselves, too, which adds a great deal to their realism and believability.
Unfortunately, this book isn't devoid of rough patches. It has a significant number of grammatical errors, particularly pertaining to capitalization and apostrophe usage. The structure of the book can be quite strange, with chapters that have sub-headings that summarize exactly what happens in the following passage, often with no regard to spoilers. The book also sometimes explicitly tells readers what certain characters' roles and motivations are, rather than allowing that information to surface naturally, and the pacing seems rushed at times.
While I found the book very satisfying, I still have to rate it 3 out of 4 stars due to its imperfections. In short, while the story is very engaging, its execution is somewhat lacking. If you can look past its flaws, it's an exciting story that I think is suitable for people 13 or older (there's some limited cursing, but no sexual content). The worldbuilding is inventive, the characters are portrayed effectively, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Journey to the Andromeda Galaxy
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