This is my review for G. L. Cromarty’s debut novel Divided Serenity: Divided World Book One (she has already released book 2). Visit her site for more information.
WARNING: This review may contain spoilers. They are not intentional, but you are warned in case they do happen.
Synopsis (from Amazon):
SERENITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN DIVIDED….
…and the lines between good and evil have always been clear. Long ago, the ancients colonized the planet Serenity and created the technologically advanced city of Aterra, separated from the indigenous people of The Shadowland by an impenetrable wall. The Shadowlanders are primitive, warlike groups that have gathered into two distinct groups that have been at battle with one another for eons. Yet suddenly, strange things are beginning to happen, and the Shadowlanders don’t seem to be fighting one another as much. What’s more, a portion of The Wall which protects Aterra, has unexplainedly come down, perhaps due to an earthquake, or perhaps due to something more sinister. What’s more disturbing is that only three people have the skills to repair it—until the first two disappear en route to a remote power station deep in the forest. Now Hannah, as the last expert, must go. Her journey will take her into a native land engulfed by war between ancient enemies. Along the way, her own perceptions will be changed and she will find herself playing a part in a new rivalry determined to bring down Aterra and rip the Shadowland apart.
What I liked:
This is an intense book. It’s a slow burn, but it does get there. The characters are not cookie cutter archetypes and the story keeps you guessing at everyone’s true motive. Who are the good guys? We can be sure of at least one bad guy. I think.
Divided Serenity is a large scale sci-fi adventure that reminds me a bit of Dune with some Game of Thrones style characterization thrown in the mix. (Of course, I’m not really a fan of GOT, but that doesn’t deter this story for me, and this isn’t nearly as brutal – though it can get brutal in some parts).
It’s not a hard sci-fi novel. There is the technology, but it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of it all like Orson Scott Card or Arthur C. Clarke, etc. While those are enjoyable, this is more a character study.
What I didn’t like:
It does take some time to get started. While action explodes from the beginning, there are so many character introductions that I had a hard time keeping track of who was who at first. (That could be my fault for listening to the text-to-speech on my kindle…but still, there are a lot of characters.)
Some of the choices/actions of some characters seem a bit out of place for who they are. Particularly, one of the central female characters starts a relationship (though, completely physical and nothing more) with someone that she is afraid of…and it comes off as something just thrown in and not fleshed out, not enough for me. Thankfully, none of the sexual encounters in the book are graphic, nor detailed in the book.
There are few completely likable characters in the book. They are intriguing, yes, but not sure if I actually like them. But, that’s just me.
I think this is a good debut novel. A hard one to write, I’m sure, with its vast cast of characters and world-spanning plot. Only real gripes I have are with the pacing and the likability of some of the characters. Disturbed at how women are treated in most of the book, especially in the Shadowland (Aterra isn’t much better), but I see some strength in a couple of the characters that suggests to me that this won’t go unanswered. The writing could use some tightening in spots, but overall I enjoyed the book.
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? Perhaps you’ve dug into the 2nd one already, too. Let me know how things are working/not working for you.
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