3 out of 4 stars
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In Arteria, the 1889 squad of the Casbear Lions, the Casbear Academy steamball team, is probably the most dreaded team the academy has ever put together. However, someone attempts to assassinate one of the academy's promising talents, Nos, before the semi-finals of the Senior League Steamball Championship. Who wanted Nos dead? Is it possible that the assassin missed his target on purpose? If yes, to what end?
Though their team is a force to reckon with in steamball, Casbear's business is assassination, mercenary protection, espionage, and even war. And with war already on everyone's mind in Arteria, no one knows whom or what to believe. Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda, and Nos is no different. Amidst the steamball brouhaha, power plays, and deceits, Nos has one mission on his mind. To find out, you have to read the first volume of Generation Steam by Gordon Sinclair.
Sinclair narrates an intriguing fantasy story using the third-person point of view throughout this title. Being the first volume in the series, readers should expect the book to end in a cliffhanger. But I believe Sinclair's suspenseful writing style and the alluring end to the narrations in this volume would win fans for the next installments. Sinclair creates a world that solves its problems using technology, as seen in some characters having artificial body parts and skyships for transportation. However, the characters' keenness towards violence and ulterior motives make reading this book a fascinating experience. That was my favorite aspect of the book because I couldn't predict any character's future actions.
I enjoyed the author's writing style. I could form pictures of the characters in my mind without trying due to how well he described their physical appearance, clothing, and environment. I also appreciated Sinclair's use of figures of speech like oxymorons and similes to make his writing exciting. One such example is, "He never forgot the fact that he was unworthy even to be a Casbear student, and the only reason he was there was directly because of the cruel kindness of a Casbear operative: callsign Yoh." I love that!
Furthermore, I must commend the author for the unique characters throughout the book. Their different traits provide the variety and clash of interests that make a fiction book exciting. Though Nos is my favorite character, the author's description of Sunny's beauty makes her hard to ignore. Nevertheless, keeping up with the many characters in the book was overwhelming, especially in the beginning. And they all had nicknames (callsigns) which the author interchanged for their real names on many occasions. So I found myself rereading some parts of the book to know who was who. Though this issue resolved itself after some chapters, I didn't enjoy the initial experience. More so, I couldn't relate or empathize with the characters until towards the end of the book because there were many of them and not enough backstories to do the magic. I know this title is only the first volume of the series, and I expect things to take better shape in the sequels; however, I must say that I expected something better even with this volume.
All in all, I am rating this first volume of Generation Steam three out of four stars. I enjoyed the book, especially towards the end, and can't wait to read the next title in the series. But the issues I mentioned above and the many editing errors in the publication prevented me from giving it a perfect score. The book doesn't also deserve a lower rating because its pros outweigh the cons. I recommend this novel to lovers of fantasy stories with themes of espionage, deceit, betrayal, passion, and revenge.
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