This is a personal review and does not reflect the opinions of the other members of Team Escapist.
Unfortunately, a lot was wrong with this book, starting with the back cover blurb promising more excitement and character struggle than what actually appeared within the pages. And as a romance novel (listed as such on Amazon), it lacked the features needed to make it an actual romance story- no lover’s meet scene, nothing tested Michael and Eizen's relationship (aside from being apart for a bit- but I’ll get to that later), and neither characters involved in the romance changed by the end of the story. The relationship ended as it started, and so did the characters. They learned nothing new about themselves, their relationship, or even about the world in general. Except that some people are bad … but we all kind of knew that. And that they missed each other when physically separated … also, nothing new.
The book’s purpose seemed to only want to service emotional info-dumps of two characters in love, within a sci-fi setting. A story about the relationship between two characters is fine, but the story must also have substance to support the relationship story arc.
As for the story telling … this is where it really suffered. And here lies spoilers …
The blurb promises a sort of abandonment of Michael from his lover, his crew and his ship- to which he shares a special bond with the ship’s heart, a cephalopod. Except, he’s never really separated from any of them, not really. He is in communication with his lover, his crew and although faint, he still shares his connection with Padua, the ship’s heart. And everything that kept his lover and crew from physically rescuing him came across as very contrived, because it was extremely unrealistic. I kept shaking my head at the book saying … why are the characters doing this? The actions and decisions of the characters didn’t make sense.
A lot didn’t make sense. In one early scene, everything the captain says concerning the ‘alien rodents’ on his ship is technically true, and all the issues he mentions should be of concern to the ship and entire crew, but the issues are all swept away as if they mean nothing. This is where I first started shaking my head. Why were these concerns not dealt with? And why were they brought up if they weren’t going to be dealt with? Click-bait for tension that goes nowhere.
I also found it very hard to believe Michael would not know what would happen if separated from Padua. You would think that would be lesson #1 learned when becoming a Mechanique. And the captain’s immature attitude, made for a very unrealistic ‘moral dilemma’ for Michael. If anything, the moral dilemma should have been whether to confront the captain concerning his attitude and orders. If Michael thought it was weird/wrong/unprofessional of the captain to give this order, and treat the ship as he does, than that should have been the dilemma- not some contrived moral choice of staying or going to the other ship. But of course, that leads me back to my original thought- that knowing what would have happened if Michael and Padua separated would be known. Because all of a sudden, later, Michael does know what will happen, and has known what would happen all along- nothing, apparently, exept being sad. Then it’s back to how no one has ever told him what would happen. A lot of inconsistencies in this book.
In short, this book was neither romance nor action/adventure for it lacked the required elements for either. The two lovers stayed together- no tension in the relationship. It was just there, and didn’t add anything to the action/adventure part of the story. And the action/adventure only physically separated the two lovers. Their journey through it didn’t actually change either of them. So the action/adventure didn’t support the romance portion of the book. And based on the dialogue, the two characters didn’t even change how much they loved each other. The ending was the same as the beginning- except some stuff happened in the middle.
This book lacked the fundamentals of storytelling, so for me, too many unrealistic decisions, actions, choices, dialogue and scenarios, and the fact there was no character arc for the protagonist, leads to this book being a ‘no’ to move on in the competition.