Friday, March 21, 2014
The Biomass Revolution by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
The year is 2071 and everyone is being watched. A revolution is taking place and Spurious a state worker for Tisia, is on a mission to find out the truth after the love of his life, Lana, gets into trouble. Obi is the leader of TDU, a rebel army trying to bring down Tisia at any cost. Then there is Alexander Augustus and Tinus, leaders of Tisia and Tisia's Knights (a squad of elite military enforcers).
I think this story had a decent concept idea--a futuristic society under heavy government surveillance, after a nuclear war over a newly discovered fuel. The choices the characters had to make were moral quagmire in a good way; naive State-workers must choose between staying loyal to a dictatorship, or supporting the TDU who aren't any better than terrorists. The TDU had to struggle with cost of collateral damage that came with trying to achieve their end game, while the villainous Knights had to commit horrible acts on orders from above or have their loyalty questioned. Meanwhile Immigrants from before the war are being held in concentration camps being forced to fight for their right to keep breathing one more day...
However. I don't think there was enough follow through. My first complaint, is that this story never once explained what the new Biomass actually is and that's sort of an important thing to leave out, considering the world destroyed itself, fighting over it. Then on top of that confusion, there is too much going on, with too many characters, and that makes the story harder to follow. At the 70% mark, you expect a story to start tying loose ends, but it was still introducing new characters and subplots. Much of the narration is well done, imaginative and descriptive, except for when the author switched from small words to bigger ones--I love big words so you wouldn't think I'd find a problem there...And I wouldn't have, had the author known the correct definition and used those words correctly.
The characters were fairly enjoyable despite being hard to connect to, if only because they were creatures of action. They kept the story moving. But then they open their mouths and the dialogue falls flat, revealing plot holes. Like Lana and Spurious, feeling insecure in their own thoughts, wondering if the one ever notices the other. Then all of a sudden they're confessing their love for each other without really knowing each other. It's too easy, too cliche. This isn't a Disney story. Or how about Spurious and Leo? You meet a stranger in an alleyway in a ghetto and he knows more about you than you do, and your first instinct is stop and have polite chit chat? Then with the TDU; some of the scenes with Obi are really engaging. But then fight scenes occur where the "Good Guys" surmount insurmountable odds as if by magic. All the while character dialogue continues to drop snippets of information that the speaking character couldn't possibly know.
I see a lot of 5 and 4 star reviews for this book both on Amazon and on GoodReads, so it seems I'm in the minority with this review. It certainly didn't help my attitude that by the end of the book, the nature of Biomass still hadn't been revealed. Leaving me wondering, whether or not the author even knew the answer. And if the author doesn't know which characters are good or bad, what the main characters hope to achieve, what started the war, or why he's even telling the story....What hope does the reader have, of knowing these things?