I was enormously frustrated with this novel. I liked the ideas, I really liked the characters but the plot and ending were just immensely unsatisfying. It feels where they sacrifice the plot and story for an entire novel just because it’s a series. But I’m not going to want to read the next novel because I felt so cheated by how this one ended. Why would I bother, would it just do the same for novel two if there was a third novel? Fool me once, etc.
So, the plot is that it’s 1000 years in the future, humanity has discovered how to make gates to far flung stars. There’s an inter-system beef between the planet that controls the gate and one that has to pay the tariff to use the gate. There’s a battle and then a bit of a cold war. In the middle of it, is the rumour of a weapon that can destroy a planet. ALL FINE.
We then have our cast of characters. Sandra Greeve, solider who wakes up on an empty enemy ship, with a fully functioning AI running the ship, who calls himself Bero. We have her brother, Biran Greeve, a Keeper who is one of the people who are given the information about how the gates work (through a chip that gets implanted in their heads). Thomas Cepko, a spy. Lots of other Keepers of which there is lots of politics. Oh yeah, and Jules who is basically going to probably be important in another novel but almost entirely pointless in this one.
I *love* Bero (in the long continuing saga of me finding the AI the most interesting character) who is just fascinating and broken and wonderful. So wonderfully complex, utterly delightful. Sandra and Thomas’ chemistry is very fun. I almost just love how Thomas’ behaviours are described, he was definitely fun to read. Biran is a bit too on the nose noble and full of sacrifice which just seemed immensely unrealistic after awhile. But fine, good solid group of characters.
But nothing really matters because despite 505 pages, almost nothing matters. There is so little resolution to *literally anything* happening in most of the book that I feel vaguely insulted. As well, it takes a looooong time for anything to happen in the first place. I was on page 200 wondering what the hell was going to happen until around page 250 (HALF WAY THROUGH THE BOOK) if finally starts to come together (except for the completely irrelevant-to-this-book-plot-thread).
To make it all worse, it’s told from these three main perspectives: Sandra, Bero and Thomas in one story, Biran in another, and Jules in the third. Normally I am fine with such perspective jumping but in this case it was extremely disruptive. I think mainly because Sandra’s story was the most interesting for most of the time, and the other two just annoyed me for the longest time. I just had to suffer through all this tedious universe building (of which one part, and I stress, basically had 3 pages of pay off in the entire book and was not worth me reading in this novel) to get to the bit of the plot I was interested in. There is actually a fourth arc of the person who discovers how the gates work and builds the first one, but there aren’t too many of those chapters – but I stress again – UTTERLY POINTLESS IN THIS NOVEL.
Then there is an *ASTONISHING* amount of completely improbable events and feats of human endurance, which just led me from the brink of being completely into it, to the brink of ‘omfg let this just end.’
Maybe the series will be great but I would have liked SOMETHING to pay off in this novel. But no, everything and everyone’s stories are unresolved, left on one giant cliffhanger which WAS THE WORST. I’m just so annoyed as parts of the plotting was brilliant and interesting and had some definite ‘OMFG’ moments and then parts of it were tedious as fuck.
Anyway. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.