Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Notes: "Wreck of the Nebula Dream", by Veronica Scott

Yes, the cover, I know. Never mind that.

"Wreck of the Nebula Dream" is billed as "the Titanic disaster in space" and, honestly, it does a pretty good job of being that.

It's also billed as being a sci-fi romance, and I thought it did a not-as-good job of being that. Let me explain...

Our story begins with Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson grabbing a ride home on the Nebula Dream, a newly-commissioned luxury liner that's about to go on its maiden voyage and which is aiming to beat the galaxy's current speed record. Across a crowded shuttle cabin, he catches a glimpse of businesswoman Mara Lyrae, and is smitten.

Nothing much comes of it for awhile, though. We follow Nick as he tries to divert himself with the supposedly state-of-the-art appointments of the Nebula Dream and instead finds himself noticing all the places where the corporate builders apparently cut corners.

The pace of the story picks up as the Nebula Dream's engines falter, the ship hits a field of asteroids, and disaster encompasses the entire ship. Nick springs into action, trying to save everyone he can, and from there on out ... well, actually, from there on out, it reads like your basic action movie.

And I liked that! I really did. It really felt like I was reading something like Lethal Weapon crossed with The Fifth Element (maybe not quite so well-produced), and I was entertained throughout the rest of the adventure.

It didn't feel like much of a romance, though. I mean, there was a romantic subplot, but that subplot felt like a pencil-sketch, whereas the action plot felt like it was painted in competent watercolors.

What I liked and what I didn't...
I appreciated how our hero, Nick, just couldn't help himself when it came to saving every person possible. I was puzzled when a religious/mystical (maybe? or maybe it was just aliens?) thread became plot-important in the last quarter of the book. I appreciated that even though there was violence, the author didn't seem to revel in it: she portrayed it matter-of-factly, as obstacles our heroes had to overcome, and didn't seem interested (as some thriller writers are) in making her readers wallow in depravity. And I enjoyed the setting a lot: the space-faring luxury-liner felt real and intriguing. I wished the romance felt a little more real. I wish I had been pulled in a little sooner (the first few chapters felt a bit vague and wander-y).

In all: I enjoyed it for what it was. I read most of it down the long, long stretch of the 5 interstate, and it was the perfect diversion for that boring drive. It, again, really truly reminded me of an action movie. It's that kind of uncomplicated*, fun, whizzbang ride.

Content warning for some vulgar language, for violence (though, as I said, it's not excessive or gratuitous), and for one attempted rape scene (again, not gratuitous).

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*I know this might sound like like condescension, but I don't mean it that way at all: writing something that's uncomplicated fun for the reader is hard work for the writer, and my hat's off to Ms. Scott for doing it.

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