Top critical review
Idea is Great, Execution Remains Okay.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 9, 2015
I had thought that after Stewart had cut his teeth on several books and gotten the extensive feedback that he did, that his writing would feel much stronger and much more polished. I expected this book to be an order of magnitude better than the first book in this series.
While I feel that there are some major improvements to his style -- the action was easier to parse, and the descriptions seemed less ho-hum, I felt like other aspects of his style had suffered. There was a pompousness to the writing I hadn't detected before, and there were still too many pop-culture jokes that didn't suit the serious tone of the book.
The plot pacing and tightness was much better, in my opinion, than the first book. Unfortunately, it felt 'ripped from the headlines.' There is also one section that relies on our hero forgetting about a long-distance communication device that would have prevented all the trouble, only to remember it later after all the trouble is mostly in-escapable. There is no lampshade on this, no smoke, no mirrors. As a reader, I felt that was hard to swallow. Overall I felt the plot contained too much current political commentary. I also felt that the references to Christianity were painfully heavy-handed. I know other readers will like that, however.
As for the characters.... I felt that there was some assassination of Alaura's character. She was defeated far too easily, based on the insane power we saw in the previous book. Damien continues to be rise to the occasion too quickly and without real struggle. He's also over-powered. I never feel that he is in any danger. The villains are very-cookie-cutter, very stereotypical. I expected one of them to say "No, Mr. Montgomery, I expect you die" at least once. I do appreciate that Stewart put many women in both the army and the navy he's invented. At the same time, I wish they'd been fleshed out beyond "The Good Lady Captain" variations.Regardless of these issues, I do feel like, with the exception of Alaura, all the characters were written very consistently.
The book was a quick read, and not a bad one, but it felt forced and ultimately the end wasn't satisfying. However, I still like the concept and the moments of awesome really were awesome. I just wish that they felt more satisfying.