Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Heaven's Shadow left me in the Doldrums

Heaven's Shadow (Heaven's Shadow, #1)Heaven's Shadow by David S. Goyer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It makes a wonderful and frightening tale to think that if aliens wanted to attack and cripple us it wouldn't be that hard: all you'd have to do was put a few rocks 50 km or so on a trajectory for our major cities, then sit back and watch the fun begin. The idea certainly has a lot going for it. That's a pretty 'primitive' way of achieving your goal, but at least it should work. Still when you think about it these aliens can't be expected to possess this aim of : "If it moves, shoot it! If it's stationary, keep it in your sights!" Extraterrestrial life would surely have far more subtle ways of going about this. Still, even this chucking missiles idea does have a lot going for it, and it can make an engrossing read, especially if their real intentions are far more subtle, and far more disturbing than a gang warfare in space.

    And yet engrossment was the last thing I found with this book. In fact I struggled like anything to get through it. To start with, the cast of characters is huge. Most of them are quite unmemorable in fact, and I found I had to keep referring to the dramatis personae to remind myself who was who. Already I was sighing and giving it the nick name of Heaven’s Flaming Shadow before picking it up and wading through another chunk. I really struggled with it and had to push myself to finish it because the sight of it lying around was just too irritating.

As I said, a wonderful idea but such a shame it was executed this way. It muddled and it lumbered, and really I felt this collaboration just wasn't really thought out. For one example, take Harley, the ex-astronaut. Around page 45 we learn that Harley uses a wheelchair, which is fine. But the Wheelchair is an important prop in a story, and the reader, who can only work on words - not visuals- does need the occasional reminder of this important logistic. Yet  we're not reminded about this until we're into the final 100 pages, and the last lap is in sight. Add to this the fact that the book could do with a good proofread - I kept on having to decode ‛wed’ as ‛we'd’ and ‛shed’ as ‛she'd’ - and I found I had a cluttered tale that I'm now really glad to see the back of.

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