Xterra Conspiracy - Book #1
Synopsis: A scientist discovers that the Earth’s magnetic core is deteriorating and with it, the ability to sustain life. Nations unite to form a single world order under control of the U.N. They come up with a solution, to construct six massive spaceships, a kilometer and a half wide and over a thousand meters tall, fill them with the best and the brightest humanity has to offer and send them into the stars, in hopes of finding a new home for a small portion of humanity.
In an effort to avoiding exporting war to space it was decided the ships would not be equipped with any weapons and no military personal or their families would be allowed to be on them. Todd, a highly intelligent billionaire, who was troubled by dreams of the ship being destroyed because of it lack of weapons, decides that in the interests of humanity he must sneak some on-board in an effort to save the ship. Todd is helped by his best friend Randy.
In the Swiss Alps, a young girl tragically dies in an accident. As her best friend, Angela (who happens to look almost identical to her dead friend) weeps over her body. Angela’s father General Worthington quickly devises a plan for the girls to switch identities, thus allowing his daughter to leave the dying planet.
A secret group that is really controlling the world begins to suspect Todd and will stop at nothing to prevent him from succeeding. But why are they so ruthless? So begins the XTerra Conspiracy.
Review: This book is very highly detailed. The descriptions go on at length and just about every part of the book has these high details. For the most part this is a good thing, as it makes it easy to visualise what is happening and to follow the story. Occasionally it goes on for too long and I found myself wishing it would move on with the story instead of giving me such a lengthy description. One early example of this is that an SS officer reads a report about Todd, we are given the full report (about 5 ½ pages) it probably would have been nicer if we were given a summary by the person reading the report. The details were also too long when characters are recapping events. One example of this is Todd is telling his friend Randy some events that have happened to him; the problem is that as the reader we have only just read about them but we are still given a fairly detailed summary of them.
Finally some of the characters engaged in what I call Star Trek explanations, they will say things (usually scientific explanations) that are solely for the benefit of the reader and in no way a realistic thing a person would say (usually they are telling the person something that they should already know)
The science used in the book is believable and the author obviously has a good scientific mind and has done research prior to writing. I really appreciated that, although it probably should be said that a reader probably needs at least some scientific knowledge to fully enjoy this book. The science fiction tech was pretty high as well and a knowledge and enjoyment of this sort of thing really helps. I liked the fact the author included a list of websites and books for those of us interested in reading more about the technical aspects on which the series is based.
There were a few scientific things I wished were explained, such as why can’t the humans live on Mars? Also (at least according to Todd’s dream) it’s possible to the ship to go so fast that it’s not able to see a massive asteroid belt in time to avoid it, this seems to be unlikely due to how dangerous it would be.
Although it happened later on, it seemed odd that there weren’t any protests that only a select group of highly intelligent people were allowed onto the ships. I was glad that a deeper explanation of why there were no weapons onboard was given, as that while a nice idea it just seemed too risky not arming humanities last hope.
END OF SPOILER
The story is really good, I loved seeing how Todd’s plan came together and reading about the secret governments plans to stop him. It was very nice reading about very early stages of true space flight, something rarely tackled in sci-fi. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series to see what happens to the ships and what they encounter on their journey.
The characters are very good, Todd reminded me some what of Artemis Fowl, he is very intelligent and does a good job of planning ahead and avoiding the law, while often being underestimated by adults. I really enjoyed the dynamic between him and Randy; it was both enjoyable and realistic.
The rest of the cast all are interesting with great personalities, Sandra Koenig the SS agent heading the investigating was a particular highlight. As well as most of the main cast being excellent characters, most minor characters have strong and interesting personalities even if they only appear for a few pages.
There were a few spelling and grammatical errors, not enough to detract from the book but enough to be noticeable.
Finally I love the cover art on this book, it’s beautiful!
Overall I REALLY enjoyed this book; the characters and story are awesome. For the most part I appreciated the author’s high use of science, technology and the highly detailed descriptions, although occasionally I felt they dragged on a little too much and I wanted it to get back to the story. I will be defiantly reading the rest of this series.
Thank you to Ivis Bo Davis for sending me this awesome book, and a big thank you for signing it as well.
Xterra Escape - Book #2
Synopsis: Todd and his friends are now in space aboard their shuttles after managing to out run the SS. The Ark is almost complete and close to launch. All is not well however, the group discovers that the Bank has secretly created a base on Jupiter and is building war ships, with orders to pursue the Ark to ensure it stays under their control, if they are unable to do so the warship will destroy the unarmed Ark. Troubles on Earth are escalating and it’s only a matter of time until Iraq launches it’s newly acquired nuke, but what will it’s target be?
Will our heroes and the humans on the Ark be able to escape the Bank, SS, Earth and all its troubles?
Review: In full disclosure I won the first book in this series in a Goodreads Giveaway.
WOW this book is amazing, it was even better than the first book (which was also amazing). I loved just about everything about it. It is easily five stars, in fact I was only about a third of the way through the book and already knew that it was going to get five stars. It’s a shame its publishing date fell just outside of the deadline date for the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award or I would have been nominating it for that.
The book starts off with some nice reminders of what happened in the first book, enough to remind the reader if it has been a while since they read it, but not so much that it takes up too much time. It is also told in a natural conversational way making it easier to read.
Once again there is plenty of science and technology used in this book. The author clearly knows what he is writing about and has done plenty of research to make the science-fiction in his book believable. A good understanding of both real world science and science-fiction will greatly help a reader understand and appreciate this series but it’s probably not essential since the author does a great job of explaining things. I like how the author includes the sources for his book.
I especially enjoyed how the author explains how the spaceships deal with rapid acceleration and how artificial gravity is created.
The level of detail in the descriptions is again of a high level, it is easy to follow what is happening and to visualise all of what is happening in the story. I felt the author done a better job of not overdoing it in this book compared to book one, as there was only really one time that it felt like it went on for too long (when the characters are telling Todd on what he missed out on while unconscious, events that as a reader we have only just read about.)
There is an especially well written, major event that occurs about a third of the way through this book. In was so wonderful I didn’t miss the fact the main characters weren’t even involved in it or the fact that it went on for a long time describing events in high detail.
The Christian religious elements and theology are much stronger in this book; I liked that the characters pray throughout the book, and the discussion about God towards the end of the story. I would say Christian readers will enjoy this book, but the religious elements aren’t so strong that non-Christians can’t enjoy it too unless they are strongly non-Christian.
The characters are amazing and extremely well written. They have strong and distinct personalities. The dynamics between the main characters is entertaining, enjoyable and believable.
As well as the human characters, the two computer personalities are fantastic and highly amusing. They are so lifelike and human you can almost forget that they are computers.
I like the fact the characters act on the information that they have, they don’t instinctively know stuff or guess what everyone is doing based on little information.
There were a couple of very minor problems I had with this book. Firstly why did our heroes decide to send a human scout party to investigate the base around Jupiter, it didn’t have a real-life purpose as far as I could tell and was really only to set up the sequences that followed it. As these were some great sequences it can be forgiven. As part of that, why is the “Shark” almost totally unmanned and undefended?
The other problem contains a MAJOR spoiler do NOT read unless you have already read this book.
It’s a pet peeve of mine when authors bring back supposedly dead characters, so I wasn’t very happy how Brad Worthington came back after we thought he was dead. I do like his character, but when authors trick us like this it seems a bit of a cop out, it also hurts later dramatic tension since we know the characters can be saved from death.
END OF SPOILER
This is a fantastic series and a wonderful book easily worthy of five stars. The story is excellent, the characters strong and believable with wonderful interactions and dynamics. The level of detail in the description is at a high level without over doing it, and the science and technology is believable and great to read about.