Contact (Kinship War)
by Doug Dandridge
I found this novel for free on NetGalley.com
Contact is an ambitious space opera. Unfortunately, the success of the attention to technical detail, world-building, and attempts at poignancy are off-set by the often-dragging technical descriptions, confusing shifts in perspective, and repetition of concepts.
While I like the cover, I assumed the novel was going to be a fun romp, but the story carries a far more serious tone. While this is not a major problem, it took me a few chapters to adjust.
I loved the concept of the aliens. The Xakalar are well-described and their history is detailed and realistic. I liked Xelarn and Matt’s dynamic as friends and co-workers, but we didn’t learn enough about the two of them. Both characters are young, ambitions and he care for their family and planet, but we don’t learn enough about their likes, dislikes, relationships, or childhoods to understand them fully. And while I did enjoy seeing the war from different perspectives, most characters had even less development than Matt and Xelarn. There were even some characters who are given an introduction (the archeologist, Matt’s sister) but don’t contribute to the plot.
And perhaps it was the format my novel was in (Kindle, on my phone), but there were no spacing or breaks to suggest a change in perspective, which was very confusing.
The representation of women and people of colour in this story was excellent for the most part - there are women in STEM, women in high-ranking military positions, Matt is a person of colour, and so is most of the crew. Unlike some books that include token representation to make it seem “futuristic”, the author genuinely strove to create an equal society.
There is a section with a riot that bordered on poignant, considering our social climate today, but there was not enough of that to make a real point. There is no love story in this book (not a bad thing).
Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, there is far far too much technical description of FTL travel, ship technology, warp drives, “nullium”, and a whole bunch of other stuff that might please tech-heads but which distracted me from the story. And there was an egregious amount of telling how a character feels. A man will be said to have a sweaty face and then it will follow with “because he was anxious.” In both scenarios, which happen often, it’s overkill.
Yet, despite these things, I did enjoy it. I liked the concepts, I liked the space battles, I liked the overall quest (once I realized what it was). Unfortunately, I can’t give it more than 3 stars. I would prefer to give it a solid 2.5.