Cryptic Commands by Steve Rzasa

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.

Cryptic Commands: A Vincent Chen Novella by Steve Rzasa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Captain Vincent Chen sees little choice but to help out Izzy, a (beautiful) stowaway spy on the run for her life. Vincent gets caught up in Izzy’s mission to stop a criminal organization from stealing and selling classified data. Vincent, who prefers to work alone, will have to seek help from his fellow comms jockeys to fend off an oncoming raid in Cryptic Commands by author Steve Rzasa.

I didn’t read the book blurbs before starting this Vincent Chen novella or the one before it. The knowledge that it was ChristFic sci-fi and the stunning, electric cover sold me on the first book, and Vincent’s story in the first book sold me on the second—which has another excellent book cover.

Because I’m not the most science-minded reader, it took me a while to really get into this story, where I enjoyed the characters and the bursts of action but got lost in a lot of the in-between technical details about space travel functions and maneuvering. While the bigger themes and deeper questions in the first book hooked me, this second read was more like a general suspense story to me, with perhaps fewer new or wider questions to address. Also, some punctuation errors and places where the present tense narration unintentionally slips into past tense adds minor confusion to the flow.

Still, Vincent has plenty to work out inside of himself, including matters of faith, his convictions, and his unexpected feelings for a woman who has virtually invaded his solitary life. Vincent’s quick and dry humor, even in the midst of danger, is entertaining and refreshing without turning his adventures into a joke, and the events in the last third of the book really took me in their grip.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

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Here’s my review of the first Vincent Chen novella, Severed Signals.

 

Severed Signals by Steve Rzasa

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.

Severed Signals: A Vincent Chen Novella by Steve Rzasa

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.

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Here’s my review of Book Two in the Vincent Chen series, Cryptic Commands.