After my phone was stolen, I decided to upgrade to an iPhone. I’ve been toying around with various apps, including the iBook store. Being a cheapskate I’ve been downloading some of the top free books, including The Phoenix Conspiracy and Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher. Sadly, thus far I haven’t been very impressed. Here’s some thoughts as to why.
Calvin, an intelligence operative, is sent to eliminate a dangerous traitor. But as he chases his prey across the stars, he realizes they are both pawns in a shadowy chess game that threatens humankind everywhere. If he is to uncover the conspiracy he must confront, and embrace, the darkest elements of the galaxy. And throw himself, his career, and everyone he loves into the line of fire.
The premise of this space opera seems interesting. The story opens from the point of view of the rogue hero as he’s surrendering to the imperial fleet, knowing he’s been wrongfully accused but convinced that everything he’s done has been for the good of the Empire. That he’ll be found guilty and sentenced to death doesn’t matter.
Yet Calvin’s suspicions are raised by the unusual situation. Why would a military hero go rogue? There must be a rational explanation for his actions, and Calvin’s determined to find out — but he’s alone in wanting to uncover the truth.
I’m now seven chapters in and I’m not certain that I’ll finish reading this. The expository prose has had me skim reading thus far, and while it now feels that the story is about to begin, I’m having difficulty connecting with the characters.
Rather than being a likeable rule-breaker who’s good at his job, main character Calvin appears immature and unprofessional for an Acting Captain of a starship. And the attempts to showcase his ‘good’ side and endear him to the reader (eg, not drinking alcohol, living humbly despite his good salary, personally footing a large bill to bail his officer out of jail, etc) feel forced.
It is little wonder that the interaction he’s had thus far with potential love interest Commander Presley Summers have been awkward. He sulks about not liking arrogant women without seeming to realise that he, in turn, is behaving arrogantly towards her.
There is a lot of potential in the story, in particular in terms of setting and plot, but the characters and writing leave me indifferent.
I’m sorry, Sanders, but I’m out.
This book is free to download from the iBook store & Smashwords.