Tuesday, July 16, 2013

REVIEW: The Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough

The Exodus Towers (Dire Earth Cycle, #2) The Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

+ the plot

The first half of the book wore me out. Too many bad things were happening to our heroes for me to deal. The book depended too much on external conflicts to drive the plot much to its detriment. It left little room for me to connect with the characters, i.e. to give a damn for their continual breathing. My weariness would have been mitigated if the prose were not written in a marsh of details that often detracted from the action. I did not need to know every single micro-movement or scenery; less was more. Rare was a scene that I did not skim to get to the point.

In addition, I wished the heroes made smarter decisions. For the example, the book started off with Skyler chancing upon another immune. Instead of properly engaging the new character, he surreptitiously watched her dance like an idiot until his radio, which he forgot to put on silent, blared and alerted her of his presence and soon he was taking gunfire. I will be honest; I half-wanted Skyler to die then.

The last half of the book was better. The external conflicts finally eased up some, and I was allowed to connect to the characters, well, if only to a little extent because the characters were still kind of annoying.

+ the characters

Tania made great strides in the character growth department, no longer the helpless victim. However, she still had a long way to go. Despite being the leader of the new colony, she would often look to others to make a decision and acted more like a figurehead than anything.

As for Skyler, the guy was a natural leader yet he continued to evade taking a strong leadership role. I hated how it was only when things were dire or people were pressuring him did he ever accede to the role. He needed to get over the fact that he couldn’t save everyone and take every bad thing that happened under his command so seriously when some of them are just unavoidable.

Samantha, one of my few favorite characters, had a bigger role in book 2. Yaaay! But to my great dismay she did not assert herself like she did in book 1. Damn it! Apparently, without Skyler she could not properly function as a kickass heroine. She could have acted on her own and gone head-to-head against the main villain but chose not to because she didn’t really know what she was fighting for. At first, it was for her freedom and to rescue Kelly but when things changed and those goals were not her goals anymore she languished. Her character was relegated as the vehicle to learn about the main villain and his secret evil plans. The series skewered one of the few good things it had going on.

In regard to the villains, I did not like that the two new villains were religious nuts and cult leaders. One was enough. Two swatted the book a couple steps down on the ladder of creativity and marred the book with an anti-religious slant. Gabriel and Grillo took the spotlight away from book 1’s main villain. It was convenient that Blackfield was languishing in the meantime instead of maintaining that level of doing everything he could to kill our heroes like he did the entire book 1. Awfully convenient. I was thankful that at least one of the cult leaders was done away by the middle of the book, but it was little consolation in the face of the fact that the other became the main villain of book 2 and cemented the anti-religious slant.

On one hand, I was glad the series finally put forth a capable main villain, unlike Blackfield whose lack of intelligence suited him as at best a minor villain. I said it in my review of book 1 and I will say it again here in my review of book 2: I’m surprised the dude is still alive. On the other hand, I got used to Blackfield and I wished the series stuck to him as the main villain throughout book 2. Some character development on Blackfield towards the end of book 2 markedly elevated his credibility as a boss villain, which bemused me because this should have occurred early in book 1. I guess better late than never.

+ the ending

The ending was a cliffhanger but I didn’t take issue with it. I took issue with the contrived twist that preceded it that left Tania and Skyler in a seemingly hopeless situation as usual to my exhaustion. That betrayal came at no surprise and could have been easily avoidable. The character’s association with Blackfield was a giant red flag; the only bigger red flag would be a floating sign that pointed to the character and said “traitor” in all caps and red text and bitchslapped the surrounding characters to attention.

In Conclusion

I rate The Exodus Towers 2-stars for it was okay. It was definitely better than book 1, but it was still far from good enough to level up the series to a 3-stars for me. Regardless, readers who enjoyed book 1 will continue to enjoy book 2.

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