3 out of 4 stars
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Nearing the end of the 21st century, the time for humanity to leave the dying Earth has come. Survival of the human race rests on the successful departure of the Magellan II and its 10,000 colonists, who will seek to establish a new beginning on a far-off planet named Aqueous. The journey ahead promises to be just as strenuous, if not more, than the effort it took to get Earth's flagship off the ground.
It all began during WWII with a Russian family exiled to Eastern Siberia and a Japanese family who survived the bombing of Nagasaki. While the Yanbeyev family sought a legacy in the medical field, the Mizushima family developed the technology to propel NASA's research into the future. Both families' achievements would prove essential to the Magellan II mission, but with the rising tension among Earth's political powerhouses, what will it take to leave Earth in time? When Earth falls to pieces, what will happen to those left behind? And what chances do the colonists have for survival on a reptile-infested planet?
Ark of the Apocalypse, by Tobin Marks, is a science fiction novel that seeks to answer these questions. At the same time, readers experience the effects of climate change on the planet and humankind's efforts to embark on a desperate venture. While I initially chose this book because I was interested in a colony story about humanity's survival in a new world with dangerous neighbors, I came to appreciate the author's depiction of the final days on Earth. Through the converging storylines of the two families, I learned much about the process of preparing for the eventual need to leave the planet and what contingency plans were available. The author also used political strife to create a futuristic scenario featuring the somber reality of humankind's environmental impact on Earth and its resources. The details incorporated prepared the way for a more profound effect on my reading experience when the combined efforts paid off and the Magellan II left Earth.
I enjoyed how the setting jumped between various places around the world and eventually the new planet, while the narrative covered a period from WWII to the early 22nd century. The progression of the story remained clear and cohesive through location tags at the beginning of each chapter. The constant shift between storylines and forward movement in leaps of a year or more didn't leave much time to get emotionally connected to the characters. Instead, I stayed engaged by focusing on what each family accomplished despite a lack of character development. By the second quarter of the book, however, Nadya Yanbeyev comes to the forefront as an essential character, and I appreciated the emotional connections she added to the plot. Overall, however, the writing remains straightforward with a calculated complexity that made unraveling the mystery of the Yanbeyev family's agenda my favorite part.
I was mainly disappointed with the use of Nayda's ability. As a seer, she predicted each event that would occur on Aqueous, and the storyline followed a pattern of playing out exactly what she saw. Her ability to see the future took away from the suspense of exploring the new world and its challenges. While the author added vivid details to the actual event as it played out, these details typically felt shockingly gory.
Still, I was intrigued by how this author presented the developing technology and adapting to life on a new planet. A unique revelation shared in the second half of the book also made Ark of the Apocalypse an entertaining novel. Unfortunately, I found more than ten errors. These typos—combined with the diminished suspense in the second half—reduced my rating to three out of four stars. I believe that science fiction readers looking for an event-driven plot that follows humanity's exodus and survival on a new planet would enjoy this book. Frequent heavy swearing did not affect my rating, but the profanities didn't help my enjoyment of the book.
Ark of the Apocalypse
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