S.L. Viel, better known as Paperback Writer for blog hoppers, very kindly offered one of her books to me from one of her many contests. I was thrilled – I’m an avid reader, but books are rarely on my budget. I used to review for Midwest Book Reviews and for A Romance Review, which was where I got most of my reading material. But I stopped when I started writing, mostly because I was starting to review friend’s books and I realized I’d always be a bit biased.
I don’t know S.L. Viel personally, and this is the first book of hers I’ve read. (And my reviewing skills are more than rusty.) But I’ll try to do the book (and author) credit.
But before I write the review, I’d just like to say that ‘Afterburn’ is not like anything I’ve read before, so I can’t compare it to another book. It’s science fiction, set in the far future, and most of the characters are not even humanoid. I love science fiction, but I read mostly techno fiction or space operas, and I can’t recall ever reading any book where the main characters were not humans. (Except in books where animals were talking, of course.)
I’m going to be brutally honest – I could not identify with the porpoise-like characters. I enjoyed their story, but I could never get the image of a sleek tuna out of my mind as I read about them. They were fascinating, and I LIKED reading about them. But they were always fish. However, Ms. Viel, perhaps with readers like me in mind, added several human characters who were all very captivating.
Anyway, here is the review:
S.L. Viel’s ‘Afterburn’ is not like anything I’ve read before. On a world where anything is biologically and scientifically possible, different species meet, interact, and fall in love. Set against the backdrop of peace talks, the story focuses on several interwoven storylines, mostly concentrating on a race of ocean-living, space-faring aquatic creatures, and several earthlings. The conflict comes from political and scientific intrigue, with one of the most interesting monster creations I’ve ever read about – the mogshrike. Action abounds, with outer space fights, rescue missions, and exploration. The characters are all vivid and fascinating. I took the book everywhere with me once I’d started reading it. I read it mostly in short bursts, because it’s written in a series of short, intense chapters. This worked for me – my attention span is not the greatest, and these past few days have been hectic, so it was the perfect book to carry with me (to the hospital, to the pony club, to the theater group conference that usually puts me to sleep – this time I read!) What I didn’t like was probably what other readers love – cliff-hanging chapter endings. My son’s ‘Goose-Bumps’ books had them. each chapter ended in a cliff hanger that made you turn the pages. ‘Afterburn’ has that sort of page-turning appeal. But as there were many different threads, the chapters didn’t actually follow the action, so I admit to skimming backwards and frontwards to read in the order I wanted. This is because I’m very linear, and has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the story. I simply picked one thread I wanted to follow, and read it to the end, then grabbed another one. To Ms. Viel’s credit, all the threads got wrapped up nicely in the end!
I loved the world building – I love descriptions, so more descriptions would have been welcome. Again, I’m not every reader, so I can see where some readers prefer to get on with the action. (Loads of that here!) I was fascinated by all the different species in the book. In short, I was sorry to see the story end, and will definitely be picking up more of Ms. Viel’s work.