Author: Alexis Glynn Latner
Publisher: Avendis Press
Year of publishing: 2014
I requested this book at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
In the late 21st century, Earth is wracked by political and ecological crises. The Aeon Foundation launches a starship to find a new world and found a new civilization, with all the advances of science and without the mistakes made on Earth. However for these settlers a new world brings with it new problems.
First of all, when I downloaded this book on my e-reader, I had very high expectations. With a premise this interesting, and the cover this gorgeous, Hurricane Moon has no choice but be a great, mind-boggling book, right? Well, not really.
The fact is - and I'm going to be one hundred percent honest with you - this book made me angry. It made me angry for reasons I will explain later. But I guess I was mostly angry with myself for not
DNF-ing when I first realised this book was not my cup of tea, which was about after five chapters. This is one of those books that make running this blog feel like a job. A job I'm not getting paid for.
For this review I will try and keep my emotions out of it and be as objective and rational as I possibly can, and list every detail that makes Hurricane Moon a
Also, I feel it is necessary to emphasise that I my feelings are directed towards the book, and not the author. This is what I do - I review books, and if I hate what I read, I will be honest about it, but my feelings never have anything to do with the author.
For fairness' sake, let me state all the positives about this book. The premise is interesting. The science is fascinating. Planet Green - which our heroes are trying to settle - is a beautiful and mysterious world. Visually, this is a beautiful book.
Now to my biggest problem with this Hurricane Moon: the characters.
One-dimensional characters is something that a lot of hard sci fi books are suffering from. For instance, Arthur Clarke wrote fantastic, mind-boggling novels with great science, but his characters were often flat and served as catalysts for the plot. But they were still likable, and you could relate to them. They were good people.
Characters in Latner's book are uninteresting at best. And at their very worst they're unlikable and they make it very hard for me to care about them. They have the emotional depth of characters in a daytime soap opera, and they often act like they are in one too.
Good science cannot save poor character development. It doesn't matter if you're writing hard sci fi or young adult romance, it's the people in your book that are the core of the story. That's the reason people want to keep reading your book. And if your characters who are supposed to be smart grown-ups, act like teenagers in an MTV reality show, then your book is in trouble.
When they're not fighting with a strange environment or trying to solve the next problem they're faced with, the people in Hurricane Moon are either boning each other, or thinking about boning each other. You'd think that a group of highly intelligent scientists stranded on an alien world filled with sudden dangers and endless possibilities wouldn't have the time or the energy to think about sex, and indulge in high school crushes, but that's all they do.
One of the major problems these people are facing is failing health caused by almost one millennium they have spent in stasis. Well, I'm glad that at least their libido has remained intact.
For instance, the main heroine is attracted to pretty much every male crew member she is working closely with.
I know that this book is science fiction/fantasy/romance, so of course there will be love and sex and the whole package. But guess what? Jane Eyre is romance too. So is the Hunger Games trilogy. Turns out, you can write smart romance.
The author is trying to add some depth to the characters by making them have philosophical and religious discussions. Unfortunately, the attempt is not successful. Yes, you're thousands of light years away from home, and everybody you used to know is long dead. I get it, that's the most standard discussion you can have in a novel that involves deep space travel. It's almost a requirement, really. And even when the discussions have the potential to be interesting and deep, they add nothing to the emotional growth of these characters, because they don't have any depth to begin with.
It's especially annoying when the author is trying to force religious metaphors into the story. I wouldn't have a problem with said metaphors if they were subtle and I had to figure them out by myself. But from the very first chapter, the author tries to beat me over the head with the religious allegories and parallels, throwing all subtlety and intelligence out of the airlock.
There is actually a dialogue that perfectly illustrates both the maturity of these characters and how they usually interact. This is an exchange between two guys - one of whom is a priest - and they have just been in a terrible accident:
"You're not a believer?"
"I'm an atheist."
"Given the straits we're in, perhaps you should reconsider."
This is Hurricane Moon in a nutshell. Of course the religious guy will try and force his faith on a person he only met five minutes ago. And of course the atheist will be an asshole about it. Because that's the only way a believer and an atheist can interact with one another.
Latner has written her characters into tiny, poorly developed boxes.
A beautiful but uptight lady doctor? - Check!
An obnoxious yet charismatic genius scientist? - Check!
A strong captain with the weight of the world on his shoulders? - Check!
A priest who can't stay out of other people's business? - Double check!
There is better character development in some of the fanfiction I've read. Seriously, the only characters I found remotely interesting were the heroine's cat and the captain's parrot.
Okay, let's leave the characters in their little boxes, and talk about the story, shall we? Like I said in the beginning of this review, the premise is interesting. We're dealing with a whole new world that is filled with dangers and incredible possibilities. A large group of people that are facing consequences of being in stasis for almost one millennium. This story, with all its dangers and challenges should have me at the edge of my seat. Except that it doesn't. The author jumps from one subplot to the other, then to the third and then back to the first. It's the most convoluted plot I have encountered since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the most unbalanced storytelling since Moby Dick.
When I was about half into the book, I was still trying to figure out why it felt so convoluted and all over the place. And then it hit me: the plot has no direction. It's just a bunch of random things that happen and interfere with the characters' original plan of settling an Earthlike world (and boning each other).
I apologise if this review is way too emotional and if you feel like I'm exaggerating the problems I have with this book. The truth is, I'm not exaggerating at all. Reading this book has been a very trying experience. I couldn't get invested in the story, nor could I empathize with he characters. The stereotypes made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion, and it took me way too long to finish it. And I know, it's only a book, right? Why should I get so worked up about a piece of fiction?
I shouldn't. Except that books mean a lot to me. They're a big part of my life. Fiction or non-fiction, I love to read, and I love to blog about it. So when I stumble upon a book that is so poorly written, that it doesn't even feel finished, I get upset. I could have been reading something else instead. Something that would be worthy of my time.
Another word that popped into my head as I was reading Hurricane Moon was "pretentious". And that's what the writing feels like - pretentious. The characters are shallow. The book is pretentious, the writing is both vulgar and awkward at the same time. At times it felt like I was reading the script for a big budget Hollywood production with no soul or depth.
Bottom line, I really, really wanted to like this book. I love science fiction, and I love books about deep space travel. Just not this one.
If you can find something in this book that you like, I'm happy for you. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
My rating: 1 star.
By the way, it's the first book in the Aeon's Legacy series, and there's an excerpt from the sequel in the e-book. I didn't even read it, because