Echo 1: Approaching Shatter
By Kent Wayne
Atriya lives on another planet in the future. It is a dangerous place ruled with military stiffness, but Atriya is beginning to see things aren’t as they seem. Unfortunately, no one lives in a bubble, and before Atriya can make sense of things, his actions bring him close to the edge—something that most people on Echo call: approaching shatter.
This part is a bit contradictive, and I had a feeling this book would suffer the normal disease most first time writers do: repetition. But like quite a few, this is quickly alleviated further on and actually gets good. For example:
“Their collective breathing roughened, and their panting harshened into pained braying that wounded the serene mountain air.”
‘Breathing’ and ‘panting’ are both the same thing—the intake and release of air. The only difference is the rate. ‘Roughened’ and ‘harshened’ both mean to get worse; so in essence the author is saying, ‘Their breathing got worse, and their breathing got worse into worse breathing…” Repeat, repeat, repeat. But again, the author seems to learn from his mistakes because later this horrible habit is not continued. Unfortunately, it takes roughly half the book to do so.
Here, too, I didn’t agree or like everything with this book. Most characters were stereotypical military types. This was okay with some, like Benson, the cookie-cutter of many movie-like war leaders. I understood him—you need an antagonist—and he worked well. But other characters, like Clement and his buddy, not to mention Verus, were a little too familiar and archetypal.
As for the main man—Atriya—again, I liked him more later on when the author stopped trying to impress us with how ‘different’ he was from all the other men, or how ‘trained’ he was with his never-ending commitment to push himself harder. Quite possibly the weak writing and repetition in the beginning left this distasteful residue. Like I said, later on, I liked the guy.
This is the killer. First off, the author goes through extensive pages in the beginning flipping from slight movement of characters, to well-detailed info dumps. Every time I reached one of these info monsters, I scanned ahead and realized I didn’t miss anything. Very tell-tale sign of a new writer.
Secondly, the first chapter starts with a portrait of our main character running in the hills, and that’s all it essentially is—a painting of our hero with little or no plot. It’s a common ploy in newbies to show us our MC doing something while actually having no plot. The second chapter…and the third chapter do the same but with different backgrounds. The plot doesn’t really get started until roughly thirty or forty percent of the way through. I’d advise the author to go back and fix this, if not chop it out entirely.
The third offense here is the obsession with detail in everything military and machine-like. Anytime new tech or a new division comes in, we get large rolling paragraphs, situating us just right as to how we should feel about it all. Sometimes it made sense, like when he explained the meaning of the book’s title. On the other hand, he didn’t have to get so minute about everything. Then again, I’m not a sci-fi aficionado. If that is the way those books are done, I may be wrong, but for me, it caused me to skim, and usually skimming is a sign of something done wrong in my book.
All in all, it wasn’t that bad. I know I made a lot of complaints, but what I always like is to see an author grow—and this definitely has that. By the end, him telling us how to feel about this person or that person didn’t happen as much. In essence, he got down to the story. Another drawback, however, was that this is one ‘volume’ of an ongoing story, so don’t go into this looking for resolution. This book is a snippet, not a stand-alone. And for some that’s not enough. I can get with it, though. The author said he cut it off in a way to follow themes, which is what old time books originally were as well. Crime and Punishment was published in six separate parts, but back then, that was the norm. Ultimately, it’s to each his own. Still, I have a feeling his next one will be better.
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