Official Review: Revenant by Raymond Bayly

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Official Review: Revenant by Raymond Bayly

Post by CataclysmicKnight » 27 May 2018, 20:41

[Following is an official review of "Revenant" by Raymond Bayly.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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First contact with alien life is one of the most potentially scary and amazing things that could happen to us as a species. Aliens could be kind and share wonderous technology, thrusting us centures or even millenia into the future technologically, or they could be conquerors merely looking for resources. In the case of Revenant by Raymond Bayly, there's a bit of both. The Empire is out there, somewhere, taking over planets and either eradicating people before they can pose a threat or enslaving them. One man - Captain Vasimer, an ex-Empire soldier who actually helped enslave numerous planets himself - and a futuristic (even compared to the Empire) AI box are trying to stop them, but Vasimer is dying and believes humanity to be the next best hope for their mission.

The AI, which later calls itself Morgan, assembles a motley crew of three human specialists: Captain Shira Yael is a pilot in the Israeli Defense Force who relied on nurses and her mother for everything after sacrificing her plane and almost herself to take an enemy plane out, and Davi is a brilliant engineer who has... some mental challenges. For instance, when he worked at MIT he blew up his lab, purposely, to kill the gremlins that were there. Davi and Shira were both approached and offered the choice to accept the mission or not, and when Shira was told she'd be able to pilot the ship and Davi was shown highly advanced technological schematics they were easily won over. Blake, however, was almost entirely forced into his predicament: he came across Vasimer's pod when it landed near his neck of the woods and was sedated and brought on board.

These three humans are tasked with the protection of Earth; see, the Nismel (the ship that Morgan is embedded in) has a tracking device on it, and if the Empire gets their hands on it not only will they become far more powerful by obtaining Morgan, they'll get the data off of the tracking device, including the coordinates to Earth. Unfortunately, finding the Nismel is also a matter of life and death for one of the most powerful families in the Empire, so a ridiculously huge bounty has been put out on it, and they can't block the tracking device forever. Even with the incredible advances from Morgan, can three humans that have never even been off the planet suddenly navigate unknown space to protect the Earth and strike back against the Empire?

Revenant is the first book in a trilogy, but it certainly stands on its own as well. While the book has a serious plot, it felt very inspired by other media, such as Blake, the leader of the human group, coming across a dead alien's body and being thrust into adventure like the Green Lantern movie. Also, while the plot was serious, there were many humorous parts as well, and the camaraderie on the ship (especially once aliens start becoming members of the crew) felt like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In fact, I found myself reading lots of Blake's lines in Chris Pratt's voice, and one of the aliens felt a lot like Drax mixed with Rocket's love of bombs. This likely wasn't intentional, as the story is nothing like any Guardians of the Galaxy story I've ever seen, but it made it more fun for sure.

Speaking of Guardians of the Galaxy, one of my favorite things about Revenant is that the characters are all unique. The entire crew of the Nismel is interesting, and I found some really fun moments between them. There were times I wished one character or another would get more time, but otherwise Raymond did a great job with them. The story also jumps around a bit, including to Craylor's - the villain - point of view. Craylor isn't an insane, entirely-evil monster, and he isn't even a supervillain. Instead, he's born into a family where pride is all that matters, and even potentially damaging the family name is worthy of death. He's pulled into this against his own free will after the theft of his ship - the Nismel itself! - and I found that refreshing. In fact, as far as character personality is concerned, even hours after finishing the book I'm still laughing about Blake and the Drax-like alien discussing the variety of uses of the F-word, and the villains who were forced to watch Three Stooges and were arguing over which of the stooges was in charge.

The book is barely over 150 pages, and quite a bit happens in such a short book, but I found that I was almost never fully drawn into it. I found myself easily distracted while reading, and while I was easily able to pick it up and remember what was happening (something I can rarely say for any fiction novel, especially when it's sci-fi or fantasy), I just never really found myself so curious about what would happen that I had to read it. That's a shame, because with a few editing runs I feel like it would easily be a 4 star book! The action is good, the dialogue is fine and sometimes even exceptional, and the characters have a lot of potential. There are even great themes touched on - for example, the first interaction the human crew have with alien life is battle, and they all deal with that in their own way. Sadly, it's brought down by over-explaining things and a great deal of errors. It felt like someone read the book and asked how certain things would happen, so the author added explanations of how everything could potentially happen the way it did instead of building the rules of the book and the science of it in earlier. Also, as mentioned, there are countless errors in the book; for example, Raymond frequently uses “suite” instead of “suit” and “there” instead of “their”. There are also numerous punctuation errors (mostly missing commas and periods, although also some words are possessive when they shouldn’t be and others aren’t when they should be). This made me have to double back and re-read at least once or twice every other page and killed my immersion.

I want so badly to rate this book 2.5 stars. I want to so badly that I want to get Morgan to hack her way into the Online Book Club servers and turn on half-star ratings. Giving it 2 feels like punishing it too much, but it definitely isn't worthy of 3 in its current state. Since I can't count on the assistance of a massively-futuristic AI, I guess I'll have to give Revenant 2 out of 4 stars. With that said, after over 250 book reviews, this is probably my favorite 2 star book. It really is just three or four edits away from a perfect 4 star rating, and I really hope the second book in the series, Jamestown, gets the love it deserves. If so, this is a sci-fi trilogy I'll go out of my way to recommend to everyone! If you like sci-fi, don't mind rough editing and want some good humor, it's still very much worth reading. There's no sex whatsoever (thank you!), but there is a lot of cussing.

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Post by teacherjh » 28 May 2018, 08:08

It sounds like a great sci-fi premise. I might check it out despite the editing issues.

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Post by Bianka Walter » 28 May 2018, 14:06

This actually sounds like a lot of fun. Well, you can't compare something with Guardians of the Galaxy and expect otherwise. What a pity about he editing. After such a stellar review, it seems like such a waste to only give it 2 stars. I love the comment about it being your favourite 2 star book though, at least it wins at something!
Thanks for the awesome review :)
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Post by Kendra M Parker » 28 May 2018, 18:31

It’s a shame how poor editing can so significantly impact the rating on a book. It does sound like a fun storyline, but I think I will have to wait and see if it will get the editing that it needs and deserves.

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Post by Kemunto lucy » 28 May 2018, 18:39

Sounds like a serious book with a great story. The rating disappoints though.

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Post by gen_g » 28 May 2018, 19:34

This sounds like a great story! It is a pity about the errors. Thanks for the review.

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Post by kandscreeley » 29 May 2018, 09:30

Wow! So I really love sci fi and was all amped about this from the cover. Then I saw the rating and was so disappointed. Then I read further and got excited again. If it's your favorite 2 star book, I'll definitely have to give it a try. I can overlook errors if the book is written well enough, and it sounds like this one is. Thanks so much for the great review.
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Post by NL Hartje » 29 May 2018, 11:41

Alien encounter stories have never been my chosen form of sci-fi/fantasy and this one doesn't seem to break that mold. Thanks for professionally detailing why this book just didn't work!
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Post by Dipika Malkani » 30 May 2018, 02:46

Wow! So I really love sci fi and was all amped about this from the cover.

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Post by maggiechap » 30 May 2018, 15:01

it sounds like an interesting concept. I don't typically enjoy sci-fi, but i may give it a go despite the misgivings. But my question: over 250 reviews? Wow! I'm impressed!

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Post by joshfee77 » 05 Jun 2018, 02:07

Sounds like this book has a lot of potential and just needs some decent editing. Humour in such stories, done well, always makes for a more enjoyable read. Great review!

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Post by Kharellx » 12 Jun 2018, 23:11

Editing has been a great issue on most books, i hope they would fix this as soon as possible to create a more electrifying effect on readers. The reviews are great though 👍🏼

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Post by elwhiz » 14 Jun 2018, 04:07

sounds interesting, this would be a must read to me.

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