2 out of 4 stars
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Alien mythology has been a part of our world's history since nearly forever. Is there life "out there"? If so, why has contact not been made? Many have theories, but since nothing has been definitively proven, much speculation has been jotted down in fiction. The Circles Beyond Forever by D.A. Jennings deals with one such alien theory.
Including both fantasy and sci-fi elements, the premise of the book is most intriguing, albeit shocking. An seemingly ancient artifact is discovered, however no one can tell what period of history this item could have come from. Small enough to be portable, it is made of an unknown substance and is engraved with curious markings. When examined closer, the markings match crop circles found in various parts of the earth. Even more disturbing is that America's satellite just picked up images of the exact same crop circles being drawn in space. Is "contact" being made?! The President of the United States acts quickly by shutting down all satellite communication and disseminating a cover story about repairs being needed. Next, he assembles a top secret team of young people who have no connections to military, politics or even the known scientific world. Their mission: find out what the artifact is, what it is made of, what the crop circles mean, determine if contact is being made, and if so, what THAT means.
David Quinn is selected to be director of the small group that includes Casey, an Astronomy Ph.D.; Jim, computer genius; Martha, agnostic visionary; Alan, computer and engineering nerd; Kris, microbiologist; and Alicia, alien specialist. They didn't know it at the start, but they were going to spend the next few years in close quarters, completely cut off from the world. The pay is significant, and they are given nearly limitless resources. The group reports to David Quinn, who reports to Dr. Ray Bradley, who reports to the President. Together they search for answers. The answers that do come are life-altering.
The author is very careful to set up each section of the book; each puzzle and each discovery is explained carefully. However, the magnitude of the situation necessitates that such detailed writing significantly slows the overall pace of the book. Often, it felt as though I were never going to get to the end of the story. I would have enjoyed a much quicker pace. I would not assume that this book should include be filled with action, but would have liked to move through the story line faster.
While the characters obviously go through times of growth and change as would be appropriate in spending such close quarters with each other, I did not feel as though that were adequately developed by the author. I felt that the characters could have been better developed. The author does explore interpersonal conflict, but I felt that the writing did not reflect a realistic view of relationship issues found when people live with each other 24/7. The author does work with the very real possibility that people in this situation would develop love interest in others. In my opinion, I was glad that the author did not include steam intimate scenes as that would detract from the main purpose of the novel. However, I did feel that the love interests were somewhat sterile and "too perfect."
This book would appeal most to readers who are interested in scientific conundrums, discoveries and a small shot of philosophy. The editing is overall done well; I found only a few scattered errors. However, although the basic premise is quite good, I did not feel that the writing style matched my expectations. With the characters being somewhat sterile and the pace being so slow, I am going to give this 2 out of 4 stars.
The Circles Beyond Forever
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