My rating: 3 of 5 stars
*Minor spoiler warning*
I have read nearly every John Scalzi book there is, and this one shares the same high quality craftsmanship I’ve come to expect: Tight and witty dialogue, Solidly paced action, and a really cool premise I wish I had come up with.
For reasons I can’t explain, it took me a while to actually get into the story. The characters were serviceable, like they belonged uniquely to this story alone, but I never felt a connection to any of them.
The first half of the story reads like a series of events I had to get through so that I ended up where the writer wanted me to be. Once we get there – around the middle of the story – is where it really shines.
Honestly I’d say once Tony starts doing his thing is some of the most interesting parts of the book. I know it’s almost all exposition and “technobabble”, but it was some of the only times I felt my mind being directly engaged. The action picks up, stars start to align, and I can finally see what I’m supposed to see.
And herein lies my main problem with the book. Once the characters figure out the mystery, we have also figured out the mystery. The last part of the book is just lining that up again; No twist, and absolutely no exciting climax to be found. I kept waiting for a twist that never came. It was all cut and dry, a nice clean conclusion.
I compare this book to pineapple pizza. I love pizza very much, but put some pineapple on it and I feel a bit disappointed. John Scalzi makes some of the best pizza around, and if he wants to put pineapple on it every now and then, that’s fine. I’ll just eat around it and wish it were pepperoni.