Release Date: October 1st 2012
Publisher: Epical Media
Series: The Forever Saga (#1)
From the book jacket:
Long ago, the first reign of Grigori Geist nearly destroyed the Earth.
Returned from exile, Geist is secretly rebuilding his kingdom beneath Antarctica, assembling his robotic Vaucan race to war against mankind. Only one obstacle remains: the war hero known as Brian Renney.
Yet Brian is losing a battle against his fears. Scars of heart and mind linger from his days in Vietnam, fueling his failures as husband and father. This embitters his youngest son, Jason – a star athlete torn between pursuing the love of his life, and meeting the demands of a father who is far from the storied army captain he once was.
And all the while, Geist is coming for them.
In this dark hour, Brian and Jason encounter a war to end all others… and an unexpected ally who, once meant for evil, shall forever be a force for good
There are times when a book blurb really adequately outlines the plot of the novel. This is one of them. There is very little I could add here that wouldn’t give away too much of the story.
This book is a slow starter; it took me a few chapters to really get into it. Once I started to get into the story, though, I enjoyed it. For most of the story, I did find the chapters about Brian, his past, and his family more interesting than the chapters about the Vaucans, but when the two stories began to intertwine, I became just as wrapped up in the plight of Regnum Aeturnam and the Vaucans. The first few chapters jumped around between a hard sci-fi plot and the story of a family slowly falling apart, with little in the way of connecting the two. I felt like I was reading two different books. Having read other reviews of the book, however, I knew to be patient. That’s, perhaps, my biggest complaint with this book. Had I not been warned that the book was slow to start, I might have given up and missed out on the great story that comes later on. It’s a bit jarring when the stories collide, but after that everything picks up. All the seemingly unimportant or unrelated details from earlier in the book have their place and form a rich, intricate plot.
There are so many characters in this book, that it would be hard to devote the appropriate discussion for each of them. Instead, I’ll focus on Jason and Brian Renney, since they are ultimately the two protagonists.
Brian is a great character. I really appreciated the fact that the hero of the book was a 60 year old war veteran with PTSD and failing health. In the beginning, there was nothing about this man that would in any way suggest he would be the savior of the world. He’s a complicated man who fears that he has failed himself, his family, and – in the flashbacks to the Vietnam war – his country. There are parts of his story that really break my heart, but that makes his redemption all the better.
I did not hold as favorable a view of Jason at the beginning. He came off as a spoiled, arrogant child who was upset he wasn’t getting everything he wanted. He does grow up quite a bit throughout the story, though, and I’m interested to see where he’ll go in the rest of the series. The relationship between him and Brian is a great representation of a father-son relationship that has gone wrong. Their pain, resentment, and love are so very believable. Even though they are apart for much of the book, Jason’s story is as much about how he relates to his father and his world as anything else.
This book takes place in two very different settings – America, primarily Michigan, and the world of Regnum Aeturnam, existing beneath Antarctica. These are two wildly different locations and are the part of the novel that actually benefit from the bouncing juxtaposition of the first few chapters. The almost alien feeling of Regnum Aeturnam compared to the normalcy of the Renneys’ home and Jason’s school make it seem all the more ominous.
Sousa is a very descriptive writer. It was so easy to picture each setting, each piece of action. His descriptions of both the Renney home in Michigan and Regnum Aeturnum are equally compelling. Where Sousa really shines, though, are the sections with Brian’s Vietnam flashbacks. You could feel the heat, hear the bullets, and see everything that Brian was seeing. I felt myself tensing up because I was so into the action.
Where Sousa’s writing is lacking, however, is in the dialogue. Each sentence a character spoke was well-constructed, grammatically correct, and often very proper. While this style of speaking would have been appropriate for the robotic characters, it felt unnatural for the humans. People often don’t speak in complete sentences or monologues that sound like prepared speeches. This is a minor complaint that many readers probably wouldn’t notice, but I would have appreciated some dialogue that sounded more like actual people speaking to each other.
This book was surprisingly religious, but in a pleasant way. It enhanced the story, rather than becoming overly “preachy.”
Technology always has the capacity to do good. It’s the people that misuse it and make it worse than it is.
Read This If You Like:
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
He, She, and It by Marge Piercy
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.