Top critical review
A bit too similar to his other novels
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2006
Let me say right off the bat that I really like Jack McDevitt and both of his series: "Hutch" Hutchins and the Chase Kolpath and Alex Benedict duo (in this series). I have tremendously enjoyed most of his other books (I wasn't wild about Ancient Shores, which doesn't belong to either of these series). Others describe the story well, so I won't go into that. McDevitt is up to his usual standard, which is pretty darn good.
My main complaint with this story is that it is very, very similar to a couple of his other books, including scenes that involve an uncomfortable meeting with the only known alien race, realistic but prolonged research phases of the story, scenes that involve narrow escapes from attempts on the main characters' lives, and a similar denger/trap when the last site or artifact is found. Also, I appreciate the fact that McDevitt's stories are built on human characters, and he never goes for the 'deus ex machina' conclusion, but rather his stories are driven by very human characters that read like people you know, or would like to know. However, this time around, McDevitt's far future feels a little TOO much like today, and I felt that way in this book more than many of his others, even though he actually offers an explanation for that similarity (there is an upper limit on the intelligence level that allows people to function well in society, once exceeded by too many members, the society begins to disintegrate).
I read a lot, and I often go several years before returning to an author and getting several of his/her books and reading them consecutively. I read more than half this book before I finally decided that I hadn't read it a couple of years ago. It was that similar to his other books.
I like the characters and the universe he's created, but I really felt that I hadn't read anything new when I finished this book.