Jasper Scott asked me to review his second Dark Space Novel, Invisible War. I gave his first book an A+ , and to this day it shares this honor with few others. I had high expectations of this book, but unfortunately, I was disappointed. I will examine Plot, Characters, and Polish before assigning a grade.
There are a lot of problems here. 1.) The title says "Invisible War" but it's more like a roadtrip with bickering children. 2.) The stupidity of many characters. 3.) The Scythians' disparity of power. 4.) There are three (possibly four) plotlines in this story that never intersect and have no bearing on each other. 5.) There's no resolution for any of the plotlines at the end of the book.
The main plot is entirely moving from Point A to Point B. I figured, "Okay, they'll be there by the end of the next chapter and then we can move on." Instead of a quick trip, the event is stretched out over hundreds of pages. The interludes to other plotlines make it feel even longer. There's no plot development. It's just a series of things going wrong to make the overall situation worse. By the end it was starting to feel like there was a sadistic game master in charge of this plot instead of the talented author from the last one.
Everyone's carrying an idiot ball to facilitate this cosmic train wreck.
1. The previous overlord made a video of the "holo-skinner disguised as the overlord" thing, including directions where to find spare holoskins, it's labeled "legacy" and Atton doesn't delete it when the Big Bad is moments from taking over his ship. You'd think he'd have a "Emergency Delete" program for a case like this. This leads to Brondi's expanded evil plan.
2. Ethan makes no attempt to resemble the previous overlord except for his holo-skin, which makes everyone suspicious of him, and he steamrolls people with Supreme Overlord authority. This makes everyone happy to overthrow him. He gives Kurlin a sample of his blood which leads to the man learning his secret, and when blackmail comes, he fails to point out that Kurlin and himself were in a position of Mutually Assured Destruction until it was no longer helpful, and instead, a spiteful Taking-You-With-Me move.
3. In addition to his failed computer security, Atton silences loose ends in the worst possible way which makes him look worse later. On Tvtropes, it's what we call a "Revealing Cover Up".
4. Kurlin is obsessed with getting off the Vailant because he thinks its dangerous despite the entire universe being dangerous to humans at this point. For some reason he thinks he will be safer in one space station than another when both are in enemy territory.
There are three plotlines here (maybe four). There's the ship moving to Obsidan Station, Brondie dealing with an invisible soldier in his stolen ship, and Destra (Ethan's wife) doing stuff ten years before this story starts. None of them intersect or influence each other. Anyone of these could be a full story (and no doubt a good one based on the last book) if they were given the space of a full book, but they're not. They're compressed together and the author switches based on a reason that I cannot fathom. It's the same mistake highschoolers and college freshman make; your premise is not specific enough and so your paper is a generalized and unfocused mess. It's especially appalling because the first book was so focused and cohesive.
There is no ending for any of the storylines. The action simply cuts off at the darkest point. It's that Goading Cliffhanger that infuriates me. It's not an author tactic; it's a business tactic. I don't like being left hanging. I want closure for the book's conflict, especially in a series. To do otherwise is lazy and greedy.
From a character perspective, the only good part of this story was Alara's identity crisis. In the last story, a slave chip was implanted in her that overrode her personality with a different one and the bulk of her scenes in this plot are about her dealing with that dissonance. It was interesting to see her perspective on it contrasted with that of others that knew her before, and those that didn't.
The section on Idiot Balls from the previous section states how I feel about the other characters.
The Scythians are still a void. After two stories I expect to learn something about them but I know nothing about them. They might as well be random space monsters for all the influence they have on the plot. It was okay in the first book because they were in the background, but now they're not, and so I want to see some motivation.
Nothing major in terms of spelling or grammar. The only polishing problem is the story splicing mentioned earlier.
I considered giving this book the lowest grade but I ultimately decided against that. It has some good points and it's not as bad as another book I reviewed.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Dark Space II: Invisible War" a D-
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