Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Kesek, a secret police agency, has spent many years arresting and killing people of faith, including the uncle of Captain Vincent Chen. Vincent, who sees to interstellar communications ferry maintenance for the Realm of Five, heads down to a colony to check out a malfunction. When he discovers that former Kesek agents are enslaved there, including the agents’ families, Vincent’s comms mission must take a critical turn in Severed Signals: A Vincent Chen Novella by author Steve Rzasa.
This is a new-to-me author, but no, I didn’t read the book blurb beforehand. Stumbled across the book, liked its cover, grabbed the book, jumped right in.
Now, even with all my past years of watching Star Trek, I’m still pretty much a newbie when it comes to science fiction reads, especially space operas. While I was interested in Vincent’s musings about his personal life in the first couple of chapters, I had trouble wrapping my head around all of his techno talk. Feeling at sea, I applied the practice I took up back when I started my first Jane Austen novel at thirteen. “Keep reading till it clicks.”
At the end of this novella’s second chapter: CLICK.
I became engrossed in the story’s themes of grief, seclusion, justice, recompense, vengeance, and the price of revenge. While I’m sometimes turned off by characters if they spread on the snark too thick, I could roll with Vincent. He’s quick and droll, has some unpredictability, isn’t incapable of recognizing when he’s being a jerk, and his areas of pain make him all the more relatable.
Although Vincent tells his story in the present, his narration slips into past tense a few times when it shouldn’t, but it’s not a big deal.
Here’s an engaging fusion of intrigue and action on the sci-fi front, with substance on the human-story front. A great series opening.
Here’s my review of Book Two in the Vincent Chen series, Cryptic Commands.