My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Ares Weapon by D.M. Pruden is a novella sized, Indie Sci-Fi/thriller. Dr Melanie Destin has a dream to start a new life on Mars. She is unwittingly coaxed into taking on a new job and soon finds out that not all is what it’s meant to be.
The Bad Stuff: Let me start by saying that I was conflicted with this book, so please don’t stop reading at the bad stuff, there are good things to say too. This book had a lot of issues for me. The content could do with a copy edit/proof read as there are several missing conjunctive words, double conjunctive words (ie. the the) and at least one spelling mistake throughout the book. There are also quite a few Latin words used in the story, and while I understand what the author was trying to achieve, I found this distracting. A bigger issue in my opinion, is that chapters jump from third person to first person narrative and back. I am not a fan of first person and in one particular paragraph it seemed like every sentence started with ‘I’. There was also some head hopping, thoughts shown in italics in some places, yet plain text in others, and a mirror scene used to describe the protagonist. I found some issues with the logic in the story too – The whole squatter thing didn’t make sense to me. Squatters rarely look after a squat house and it is even rarer that they leave of their own accord. Besides, it would make more sense to rent your apartment out if you knew you would be away for an extended period, especially if you are saving for your dream. As a reader I would also have been more sympathetic to the protagonist if she had not so easily (and so willingly) reverted to her old life, but rather had been set up to make it look like she had done so.
The Good Stuff: Okay, I’ve had a little rant above about the bad stuff, now let’s look at the positives of this book. Putting aside all the issues above, I actually enjoyed the story and found it easy to read. I think the author has a good concept of sentence and paragraph length. There are well constructed sentences (outside of those that have lost a word or have repeated the same word twice) and the prose runs smoothly. There is a good balance of description, narrative and dialogue and there’s also some good lines in the story, like ‘The smell of unwashed bodies hung in the poor airflow of the hundred-year-old tram car.’ There were little touches in this story that brought it to life for me, things like water rations running out in the shower and having to pay a premium for five more minutes. There has also been a lot of work put into the plot, and while I questioned some of the turns, I accepted them freely enough because I was enjoying the story and wanted to see how things worked out. The characters are well formed and there is both a strong protagonist and a ruthless antagonist, who both play key parts in the story and help to develop the plot. Another thing to note is that while I’m not a fan of first person, apart from the one paragraph that annoyed me, it was done very well.
I don’t normally read Sci-Fi or Thrillers, but on the whole this is a good, enjoyable read. I feel that if the author spends a little time fixing up some of the issues and releasing a version 2, it could end up as a great book. I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 golden bookmarks.