Saturday, July 21, 2012

Breakaway by Joel Shepherd - review

Joel Shepherd
Science Fiction
****  (4 out of six stars)
Cover - Good cover - Cassandra is up on a roof (looks like) shooting away....only she's supposed to be blonde.  

In this sequel to Crossover, Cassandra Kresnov has been accepted by many people of the planet.  And then again, there are many that hate her because of her potential - not for anything she's done, but for what she COULD do.  She has a job with the Swat team of the city, she has an apartment and the president likes to talk to her - or is she using her?  And she is an icon for the computer geeks of the city.  Only she keeps finding herself bound by restrictions and again, under fire by mysterious factions.

A lot happens in Breakaway.  There's a coup attempt on the presidency, attempts to silence Cassandra by arresting her (only she won't be arrested this time, nope, they're not  going to take her alive!) and now instead of hunting her, The League is trying to make advances to her.   Cassandra ends up having to go into hiding at one point and there are some action scenes....only they were kind of lost in a slew of words.  I found myself enjoying about every two out of five pages.  This isn't a fun way for me to read.

Joel Shepherd is a good writer.  He's good at dialogue, differing speech patters of people from various walks of life, good at plotting and action sequences.  He also over did it this time on the political explanations; the information about the building of the airports, the airstreams, the traffic light systems, just about ANYTHING you could explain, he explained in depth.  There would be something happening, whether it's a conversation, or a walk into a building, or the use of some firearms and the action (or conversation) would be sidelined by many, many words explaining everything from the way the body armour fit to the way the hovercars would slide in and out of traffic, to the architecture of the buildings, to the reason why there were factions against the president, FOR the president, who liked the color green, etc.  

I almost did not finish the book.  There was all this lovely banter between the swat team and Cassandra, between her  and her best friend, and it would be delayed for numerous EXPLANATIONS.  Two pages of good reading, then about three pages of political .... s.t.u.f.f.  A few more pages of interesting, compelling reading and then some heavy duty discussions about politics, computers, the white collar crime, the reasoning or all the possible intrigues going on.  It was too much.  It seemed to exceed the amount of informational writing of the previous book, by a long shot. I don't think I'll be investing in the third book of this trilogy, and doubt that I'll be on the lookout for other books by Shepherd.  There's no doubt that this man can write - he proves it, when he interrupts his educational, wordy essays for some actual story.  Oh. Boy.  I was disappointed by this book.  On the other hand, I'll bet my father would love this book - he very much loves Science, and is into text book reading - so this would probably be a very fun mix of information vs. fiction for him.

Again - I don't want to leave the impression that Shepherd can't write.  He has a real talent for dialogue, world building and plots with twists. It's just that, he could have cut out about half of all the explanations and it still might have given almost too much.  There was so much unnecessary (to me) infodumps that I would have stopped reading it if he had less talent with the action, dialogue or characterization.  The only reason I kept reading is because he is so talented with the rest of it.  However, it's not enough for me to go out buy other books by him.  I'll be passing these on to my dad, who will probably enjoy the hell out of them.

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