2 out of 4 stars
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Being an ethnobotanist is not always easy. Some may not agree with your views and being in the public eye makes it that much worse. In Rick Baker’s C/T/M/H debut novel, The Life Engine, the reader learns the struggles that one woman endures in order to stand up for what she believes in.
Ambitious and strong-willed April Gentry takes her late father’s legacy seriously. She believes without taking care of the Earth, it will slowly deteriorate and may no longer exist. Her mission is to save the Amazonian rainforests, which produces the most oxygen, in order to preserve the planet. However, being in the spotlight and not afraid to take risks, she has made some enemies. With the potential of unfavorable information being leaked, this brave young woman is now at point where she needs to lean onto Ian Wolfe, former Olympic decathlete and current CIA agent. He may be her only hope in survival.
When I first picked up this book, the environmental aspect is what sparked my interest. This is a topic I normally don’t read about, and with this being an exciting book, I was happy to jump right in. April and Ian are likable protagonists, and their relationship adds a little lightness to this action-packed read.
However, as much as I would like to say that I really enjoyed The Life Engine, I simply cannot. The book is written in third-person omniscient point of view, which if done correctly can give the reader such an understanding of several characters’ thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, with this read, there were countless times when I had to reread sections because it was not clear which character was speaking. Especially, since many character’s had similar tone of voice. This became tedious fairly quickly.
The characters and plot also was something I took issue with. There were so many characters that were thrown in throughout the story, that aside from the main ones, I became confused on whom was whom. Along with several characters, their development was lacking and many were one-dimensional. While the plot only dragged a couple of times, the ending was just a whirlwind of craziness that I couldn’t keep track of where one person was supposed to be versus someone else. On top of this, the events that occurred just seemed too unrealistic. Unless the protagonist was meant to be a fictional superhero, I cannot see how he survived so many near-death experiences in such a short amount of time.
Overall, this was not a read for me. Perhaps those who prefer action-packed novels without much character development might enjoy this. However, if you are looking for more, then you might want to pass on this one. Though it does have great potential, I give The Life Engine a 2 out of 4 stars for the reasons listed above.
The Life Engine
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