While I think I ultimately enjoyed this book, that was really only down to the last 100 pages or so. In broad strokes, there has been first contact, and two humans have ended up on Station Eternity, with the rest of the inhabitants of the sentient space station being various alien races. The central conceit is that Mallory, the main character, has many murders just happen around her and then she invariably solves them. This is the reason she found sanctuary on the station, no humans = no murders. But that changes when a shuttle of humans is allowed to come aboard. There is also Xan, a soldier who has also fled earth for mysterious reasons. Of course as soon as the shuttle arrives, all chaos breaks out with Xan and Mallory left to solve the various murders piling up.
So let’s start with the bad. It was a very bumpy ride, with some really bad pacing throughout. The first two hundred pages are basically Xan and Mallory moping about the station, talking about the same problems over and over again, just in different places. They snipe and then make up, snipe and then make up. It get’s pretty irritating after the 5th time. Then suddenly two hundred pages in we take an abrupt turn to learn about the other humans coming to the station, but not all of them, just a few of them? Then there’s about 100 pages of humans and their problems. Then a breathless rush to the end, where an incredible amount of plot happens, the mystery is solved, and various revelations come to light. I feel if that last 100 pages was paced out better, it would have made a much better novel. Instead it’s just frenetic with SO much happening all at once that I don’t even remember how the central murder happened. Anyway, some of the worst pacing I’ve come across in a very long time.
The other main problem I have are the characters themselves. I can totally buy into Mallory’s ‘power’ if you want to call it, but she is very annoying. When all you do is whine and get annoyed at everyone around you, it gets a bit boring. She had like one mode and that was it. The most interesting characters are the Gneiss, rock like aliens, that can change forms later in their life. But again, you only kind of find this out in the last half of the book. There could have been a lot more interacting with aliens and finding out about them, rather than Xan and Mallory sniping at each other for 200 pages. There were other things hinted out with some of the characters that never seemed to pan out as well, (such as with Lovely and her grandmother Mrs Brown). Characters were built up (Calliope and Adrian) but with nothing ultimately coming of that backstory. None of the characters were particularly well deployed.
So what was good. Well, the last 100 pages or so, where all the action happens. I like the concept of Station Eternity and what happens when a sentient space station experiences a crisis. I really liked Stephanie and Tina, two of the Gneiss. The concept of all the aliens having some sort of symbiotic characteristics was quite interesting, but I feel it could have been more central to the plot There are so many of these areas that could have been better dealt with during the early part of the narrative. Even the Earth Ambassador and his backstory could have been better entwined in the narrative but was ultimately pointless. It was a series of interesting ideas that were not well put together.
Anyway, proceed at your own risk.