It’s been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since – until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who to send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn’t want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder, and a biologist so spliced to machinery he can’t feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior, and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they’ve been sent to find – but you’d give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them.
This is one of those books that just didn’t work for me but there are things that I can still appreciate about it.
Let’s start off with the positives. This book explores some fascinating ideas about a possible future of humanity. The pictured painted here is fairly bleak. People become more and more integrated with technology, slowly losing their humanity in the process. There’s even a place called ‘heaven’ which seems to be a computer server–people can choose to leave their bodies behind and ascend, uploading their consciousness into the server. Everything about this book is about humans and their relationship with technology and how far we could take things until we’re indistinguishable from the machines–technological enhancements, virtual everything, AI that is almost human-like and humans that are AI-like. I love stories that explore these things! Also, vampires!
Unfortunately for me, I just…didn’t enjoy the process of reading this one. It may have worked slightly better in print for me as I found the audiobook extremely hard to follow due to both the structure of the book and the narrator. The structure seems to bounce back and forth between something in the past and the present time. Or are they memories? Or is it some other place with a different character? Uh, it took me a while to figure out what was going on. The narrator for this just didn’t work for me at all–everything felt too monotonous and I had a hard time distinguishing which character was speaking dialogue at times.
Another issue I had is that a lot of the story just didn’t interest me. Although I think the concepts were intriguing, the way the story was told didn’t allow me to connect to any of the material in a way I found engaging. This is just a me thing, I think. I was bored through a lot of the book. I did think things really started coming together near the end of the book though. The tension ramps up a lot as the crew continues exploring this mysterious ship thing they’ve encountered and they’re forced to face some hard truths. For me, the end was the best part and maybe would have hit home a little more if I hadn’t been so confused about what was going on earlier in the book.
Overall, I’m disappointed not have enjoyed this more. Maybe I’ll go back and reread it in print at some point and see if that makes a difference. 3/5 stars.