Posts Tagged ‘Michael Joseph’

I’ve categorically failed to post a best of 2018 and I’m still struggling with all manner of other time consuming activities which have made a real dent into my reading/blogging time. But, I’m nothing if not stubborn, and with a number of great books on the shelves waiting to be read, I’m adamant that I’ll keep this blog alive.

The first book in Scott Reintgen’s series was thoroughly enjoyable, hitting all those satisfying tropes like the sci-fi military boot camp and the big-bad shadowy corporation behind everything. The cast of characters was novel for their diversity and their real-world problems but also very easy to empathise with as they fought and competed to ‘win’ their opportunity to visit an alien planet and make their fortune.

In Unleashed, the group have landed amongst the alien Adamites to a surprisingly warm reception. But, as ever with Babel, nothing is as it seems as the company continue to pull strings behind the scenes for their own nefarious purposes. However, unlike the opening novel, the tension here loses some of its power and the author is forced to rely on repetitive emotional confrontations to pull the story along. Don’t get me wrong, Unleashed is still chock full of excellent world-building and intriguing prose, and the author doesn’t shy away from treating his actors with the very real characteristics of the current, teenage generation’s attitudes and ideas. Where things seemed, to me at least, to stall was in the need to bridge the gap between the first book and the third, setting up a scenario that will clearly pay fruit but which felt a little too drawn out. It is perhaps a difficult ‘second album’ issue.

Unleashed is still a great read, especially for those invested in the characters and world (of which I am sure there are plenty). We see the protagonists grow and mature, dealing with difficult circumstances and relationships all the while navigating an alien world. Trust and truth are tested to the extreme as the group try to understand where they stand, though, in the end, they realise it is only together that they will survive the various honey traps set for them by Babel. The last quarter of the book explodes with potential, setting up the next novel perfectly.

Unleashed is a title that could refer to all manner of ideas explored in the book, from the substance the crew are sent to mine, to their own anger and frustration at Babel, or the plans of the Adamites themselves. Nyxia continues to be an intriguing series and the story of the teenage crew remains as gripping and fraught as ever.

Review copy

Published by Penguin

Advertisements

Sometimes I feel guilty for reading a book so fast considering how much effort the author must have put into the novel. But, it’s also a testament to just how enjoyable it was to read, and that goes doubly for Nyxia. Billed as a YA novel, Nyxia definitely hits all the right notes for a coming-of-age adventure yet it is also a brilliantly written, gripping tale of a young man struggling against the odds to ensure that his family and his future are more than his social status would dictate.

Emmett is a thoughtful, brave, complicated teenager who, as the protagonist, carries the story on broad shoulders. Plucked from poverty along with nine other hopefuls, he is whisked away on a journey that will change his life forever, though only if he can survive. In a near-future, Emmett and the others are contracted to travel to a distant planet by a company with technology far beyond his wildest imagination.

However (and there’s always one), whilst the explorers will be made exceptionally rich, they must compete with each other to secure their place with the company. It’s a competition of ruthless rules, changing goalposts and huge rewards; for a group of impoverished teenagers, the stakes are massive. Nyxia captures all of the emotionally charged games, the tentative alliances and the brutal struggle to succeed brilliantly, keeping the pace high and the action engaging.

The company, Babel Communications, and more importantly the man in charge, Marcus Defoe, is both alluring yet dangerous though even Emmett’s street smarts can’t give him the edge he needs to take control of the situation. Constantly on the back foot, desperate to succeed and being forced to make choices designed to break even the toughest, mentally and physically. Yet, looming behind the competition is the planet Eden, it’s humanoid population and, more importantly the substance they are all travelling for – Nyxia. It’s something no-one really understands containing power and ability of epic proportions and a history that Babel is trying to hide.

Nyxia is a gripping, engaging and fun read. Scott Reintgen has created an amazing cast of characters with a protagonist who is captivating in his honest struggle to survive yet succeed along with worldbuilding that holds the promise of amazing sequels.

Review copy

Published by Penguin Books/Michael Joseph