SPSFC2 Review of 'Escaping First Contact' by Tina Beier
Derelict ship in far out space.
This is a personal review and does not reflect the opinions of the other members of Team Escapist.
The opening scenes were quite muddled as they were cluttered with; too many characters, trying to figure out the language issues concering the use of pronouns, and world building, all clumped together. Rather a struggle to get into the book having to contend with too much information all at once.
Once the translator kicked in for the characters, it became a little easier to follow who was speaking, and this is where the ‘party’ seemed to start. Everyone got along too quickly, and instead of propelling the story along, the prose and dialogue became more about a battle of wits between characters. It read as too much fluff without substance. The characters were each distinct, and easily identifiable, and for the most part likeable for who they were, and even funny at times.
But as the story conitnued, it seemed as though sexual diversions were more important than the plot itself, and therefore a lot of the plot enhancement seemed contrived. Sex, and speaking about sex, is fine in a book, even if it's not classified as a romance novel. But many times, the conversations about sex seemed to 'out shine' the actual storyline, and only seemed to be there to provide humour, but at the expense of losing story pace and actual plot. There was a lot more fodder than plot throughout the middle build and ending payoff, and dialogue came across too forced as characters spoke to each other. I could skim a few chapters (which I would reread after, since this is a writing contest), and not have missed anything important to the plot. Perhpas a little character insight was divulged within those pages, but tidbits of information consisting of character development should not need an entire chapter to themselves, but instead, be mixed into the progression of the story. Too much naval-gazing, as it would be called, and it slowed the pace of the actual story.
The antagonists were craftfully hinted at throughout the story. In fact, the way the author spread out the reveal and built tension and intrigue concerning the antagonists, was done quite well. It was probably the main reason I kept reading. I wanted to find out who they were, and what their purpose was. Unfortunately, the payoff was less than spectacular. Although an interesting concept and history was revealed concerning the antagonists, everything was explained in one simple chat when the team met them. And this scene occured too late in the story at 80% done.
‘Team Good’ meets new aliens, and ask who they are and what’s going on? And so, the new aliens divulge everything. Just like that. It was all too convenient. (This is simplified due to not wanting to reveal spoilers)
And then to simply read; the antagonists were ‘simply terrible fighters that lacked coordination and had bad aim’, killed a lot of tension. One shouldn’t weaken the enemy in the final big battle of a story. It left a rather ‘oh, that’s it?’ feeling, which led to a rather, meh, ending.
The closing words of the story weren’t what I’d expected either, consisting of the thoughts and emotions of an only ‘somewhat prominent’ character, reflecting on a character not even in the book, and only vaguely mentioned when he was. It felt completely disconnected from the rest of the story. Is it supposed to be a tie-in to the next book in the series, I don’t know. But it was a strange ending none-the-less.
Although it executed an excellent build-up to the antagoinsts, the story lost it’s way with too much character naval-gazing, and strange ‘out of place’ conversations concerning sex, eventually culminating in a contrived ending. For these reasons, this book is a ‘no’ for me.