Binary Cycle : Revelations is the second installment in W.J. Davies Binary Cycle series of novellas. To be short and to the point, I really feel that Revelations was a major disappointment. The first book in the series, Binary Cycle: Disruption, is by no means a groundbreaking or amazing work of science fiction, but it was definitely an interesting story that was fun to read. Revelations felt disjointed, confused, forced, and unnecessary. Between the setting, the characters, and the actual story progression, I found very little to be compelling or interesting. While the book is far from the worst thing I’ve read, I would not recommend this book to a friend.
I don’t really have any strong feelings about the cover of the book. It’s obviously the graphic used on the first Binary Cycle book put through a different filter with different words on it, and I’d be lying to myself (and you) if I didn’t think that affected my opinion of the cover. That being said, the picture of the binary stars is very fitting for the books setting, but the cover alone wouldn’t have been enough to draw me in though.
1. I frequently got the sense that Davies was trying really hard to make it apparent his world is a science fiction world filled with alien things in it. There were holopubs (bars?), resteros (restaurants?), ziggies (marijuana cigarettes?), absinette (absinthe?), methadex (methamphetamines?) and very strange aliens. When done well these things can help to build an exotic and alien world. But when applied in a clumsy manner, they really detract from the writing. Unfortunately in this case it felt very cumbersome to me and did little other than damage my immersion into the world.
2. The story seems really disjointed, doesn’t really go much of anywhere, and feels like it has wandered far from the path we began down in the first book. The main character in this book seems completely superfluous, as if Davies decided he badly wanted this guy in the story and decided to shoehorn him in just because it would make the story longer.
3. The majority of the characters in the book feel pointless. Kenneth, Tien, Hannah— why are these people even here? They add very little, if nothing, to the story and regularly make decisions obviously designed to drive the plot of the book. For example, let’s say you’re an 18 or 19 year old college student with a steady job in a local bazaar. One day some tourist shows up, chats you up a bit, explains to you that he’s going to go into the jungle (which is filled with dangerous things that want to kill you and eat you). Do you a) sell him things he’s interested in and promptly forget about him b) warn him the jungle is dangerous and people who enter it frequently die, or c) volunteer your services as a guide and follow him into a jungle filled with deadly things?
1. The events taking place around the Spindroth and the changes happening to them are very interesting and have a great deal of potential in regards to being compelling. Unfortunately this facet of the story is not really explored or explained in much depth (in this book, maybe it will be in the third)
1. The book itself was very meh to me. I actually had a very difficult time writing this review because book left me feeling so neutral towards the story.
2. This point is a tricky one. I’ve read most of WJ Davies published works (I think). And there is an offense that continues to pop up. Character names. In one of the books he has written prior to this, I came across a character named Daniel Jackson (Stargate SG:1) and a character named Eddard (The ‘Stark’ is absent but Eddard strikes me as a fairly unique name.). In this series, I have come across another similar grouping of characters. Specifically Skyia Walker, Banner, and in a very minor manner, Hannah. I don’t want to taint your view of the characters, so if you want to know what makes these characters specifically stand out to me, feel free to contact me.
In this book we mostly leave Skyia and her family alone, instead following Kenneth as he makes his way through Shangjai and the surrounding jungle. Kenneth initially comes to Shangjai on a business trip, looking for new technologies and trinkets that he can take home to his father. However he finds much more than he was looking for: intriguing and mysterious information on a “borrowed” datapad, a beautiful and intelligent woman who captivates his interest, and more than a few life threatening situations. His adventure will take him deep into the jungles surrounding Shangjai, where he will glimpse the changes coming to Taran.