Saturday, 22 November 2014

Abduction In Slow Motion

I picked up the Alien Apocalypse/Slave Girl Chronicles trilogy from Kobo for two reasons: 1) They sent me a coupon offer, and 2) I liked the cover. I mean, really liked the cover. While I tend to go for fantasy more than science fiction, I thought I'd give the series a try. After all, I'd just submitted my entry to the BFI/HarperVoyager short sci-fi story competition, so it seemed like a good way to end things. I don't know what I was expecting from the series, though I was interested in the cover because it portrayed what looked like a strong heroine, and implied that she was still ready to fight the harrowing enemies who destroyed her world. I only wish the author, J. C. Andrijeski, had thought to do that too. Minor spoilers to follow...

Gotta say that I love this cover. Very badass.

Jet is a 19-year-old skag, one of the humans still living free on Earth following an invasion of creatures called the Nirreth. Squatting in the ruins of Vancouver, Canada, Jet and her family eke out an existence underground, hiding from the culler ships. No one knows where the ships take the people they grab, but they never return. When a culler finds Jet, she may discover the truth the hard way.

Now don't get me wrong– the books aren't terrible. I'm currently halfway through the second novel, The Royals, and have been enjoying it a little bit more. But the problem I'm having with this series is the pacing. The story started off with the main character, Jet, running for her life. All of a sudden, we were dragged into a backstory so in depth that I almost forgot the heroine was in danger. When the ship finally captured Jet and we learned what was in store for her, I found myself eager to get back into the story. I couldn't wait for this big showdown Jet was going to have... which turned out to be less thrilling than I anticipated. 

I still don't know how I feel about the characters. Jet is a strong heroine and has no love for being used as a doormat, but I'm not as attached to her as I want to be. I found Richter, the leader of the rebellion, to be interesting but a little too unpredictable. Hopefully his true motives will become clearer. Laksri, one of the aliens working with Richter, becomes hugely important in the second novel, but didn't seem to have as much bearing in this first novel. Even Jet's lone human friend, Anaze, seems to have been thrown in for nothing more than information.

Not that there's much of that to be had. The Culling is so short that I finished it in about a day and a half, yet it doesn't have nearly as much back story as I was hoping for. I wanted more scenes to build on the characters and the world, something to make me empathize with them more rather than just experiencing some strange days in their lives.

As far as writing style, I can't complain about Andrijeski's very much, except the continued use of ellipses is driving me insane. I'm not kidding when I say that nearly every long conversation a character has will have at least three sets of them in their paragraph/monologue. It just seems like a clunky prose style to me. 

I'm still going to give the rest of a series a try, not only because I have a compelling need to finish every series I start, but because I'm hoping I'll be proved amazed, and that the series will do something to make it's current slow-and-steady pace worthwhile. I suppose I would recommend The Culling to sci-fi readers who've completed a break-neck speed series and need to enjoy something a little more casual. Some people may be into that kind of thing– I don't judge, as long as people are willing to read and give authors the chances they deserve.


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