Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2021
In my eternal search for a good science fiction novel, I tried this one.
1. Pacing: Lives are at stake, but Reed, our hero, wastes way too much time enthusing over the cool tech toys he gets to play with while tracking the bad guys.
2. Trivial nonsense: We’re supposed to be in the middle of a furious fight, but the author keeps distracting us with inanities. Like, telling us how attractive the victim is – she’s “lithe” and “athletic” and “exercises regularly.” And this is before our hero has even had a good look at her. Once he gazes on her up close, we learn she’s “more attractive than he had expected, and looked to be athletic as well, with dazzling green eyes that blazed with intelligence.”
3. He’s so besotted with her that five minutes after meeting her he’s apparently ready to tell her everything he knows because, you know-- “Screw top secret.” This is how he impresses a high I.Q. physicist?
4. Not that our hero is a schlub. Our heroine is hospitalized and you might think that she’d wonder how seriously she’s wounded. But no. All her attention is on her rescuer, and she immediately notices–through her pain--how “ruggedly handsome” he is. Back in chapter 2, the female colonel who gave Reed the assignment in the first place remarked that he was so “charming and attractive”that he could surely use his “self-confidence” and “charisma” as a weapon, and not rely just on that silly technology. Apparently even the officers get a buzz when Zachary Reed’s around.
5. Dumb jokes: Although it’s a national emergency, Reed finds time to banter with the green berets because...well, their name is so stupid. “The name Pink Unicorns already taken?” OK, maybe they’d josh like this afterwards in a bar. But in the middle of a chase? The author finds this joke so hilarious that he repeats it again in chapter 12, (Purple Unicorns).
6. Mind reading: the hero shows an uncanny (and unbelievable) ability to predict the villains’ behavior– to foresee the traps they’ve set, how they’ve figured out that he’ll think X instead of Y, and Z, yada, yada, yada.
7. Information dumps: Page after page after PAGE of explications, disquisitions, and treatises on quantum mechanics, on carbyne, on nanites.
8. Tortured metaphors: “Suddenly, a desperate idea exploded fully formed into Reed’s head.”
"Exactly," said the colonel. "Catching the entire world with its pants down."
To end on a positive note: An excellent science fiction book I can recommend is: ONE DAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Well-written and genuinely funny (but really short).