Friday, September 23, 2011

A Galaxy Unknown, and some of its sequels

My iPad is a fun way to read books, and I like the Kindle app better than iBooks. In part, that is due to the wider selection of titles, but it is also the actual reading experience of the Kindle that I enjoy. After I read a few books by Amazon published author D. A. Boulter, I sought another science fiction author who is not published by a "big" publisher. I began a series by Thomas DePrima, which begins with A Galaxy Unknown. This book has many reviews on Amazon, and the sheer number of reviews, along with the description, led me to purchase it.

DePrima's novel is far from original, but that is not necessarily a criticism. There are only so many plot devices, and space operas have certain limitations. Actually, I liked the blend of action and description. Other reviewers seemed to find the dialogue more annoying than I did, but the author's insistence on using specific height when introducing his fairly large cast of characters is quite annoying. Other descriptors, such as eye color, hair color, skin tone, and whether or not the character likes "fries with that" would be welcome. I read four books in the series, and the author never stops using height as his favorite method of description. Far worse, the author insists on retelling the story every time the characters do. Without all the repetition, A Galaxy Unknown would probably be a tight 100,000 word read.

Still, the main character has her charms. Yes, the heroine is a bit like Honor Harrington, but even at the outset of David Weber's series, Honor is taking her first command, whereas Jenetta Carver is a lowly ensign when the first novel begins. Of course, Jenetta is not going to remain lowly for long, and the breakneck pace of this first story is refreshing, if one judges space opera by Weber's lengthy and increasingly action-starved yarns.

As I read the second, third, and fourth books in the series, I became less enchanted with DePrima's space opera. Jenetta Carver is a fabulous heroine; and her permanent youthful looks and ever changing DNA, along with plenty of villains to defeat, keep her from being boring. I desperately wanted to like the sequels, because I did enjoy the first entry in the series, but the second volume just has too many admirals heaping too much admiration upon her. Yes, I know one must suspend disbelief to enjoy a good space opera. I have no problem with that, but Jenetta is too apt to be worshiped by her superiors as by her subordinates. I can only stand a page or too of hero worship at a time, especially when it is by older guys who should be both arrogant and curmudgeonly. 

Even the introduction of more characters and settings in the third and fourth books, including more villains, does not give Jenetta and her sisters sufficient challenges to create suspense. One of the main reasons to read fiction is to watch the characters solve problems, and this is the core issue with this author's work. Jenetta is too perfect. The reader knows that Jenetta will win the battles via her brilliant strategy, crew and superiors alike will worship her, and she will get another promotion by the end of the novel.

Of course, I could have quit reading before the fourth installment. No one made me buy books two, three, and four. Unfortunately, I did like the first book enough that I kept hoping that the author would regain some of the freshness of A Galaxy Unknown. Alas, it never happened, and I wasted eighteen bucks on the sequels.

Readers of Pam's Pages should realize this is merely the opinion of a five-foot nine reader, teacher, and author. Based on the reviews on Amazon, there are readers anxiously awaiting book eight in the series. I am looking for another new writer.

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2 Comments:

At Sep 23, 2011, 9:24:00 PM, Blogger Cozy in Texas said...

Thanks for the review.
Ann

 
At Sep 23, 2011, 9:33:00 PM, Blogger Pamela J. Dodd said...

You are welcome.

 

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