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Tyson S Sukeforth

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Aftershocks audiobook cover art

Great setup for a series, but a bit short

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-19

I typically prefer to wait until the 2nd or 3rd installment of a series before I start one. It gives me a chance to really dive into a story while getting an idea of how committed the author is to continuing the series. I broke that convention when picking up Aftershocks because I wanted to see what exactly was holding up for so long the next installment of my beloved Frontlines series.

Well it turns out Kloos does it again. In Frontlines he's very good at taking a large scale story but driving it through the main character. But unlike Frontlines, The Palladium Wars introduces you to multiple main characters, each with very unique backgrounds and personalities. Through them the book does a fine job of world building a relatable but still fresh feeling setting that is a fertile ground for storytelling. I love smart and inventive science fiction that still feels grounded and Kloos is the best at it.

For all this I give the overall book 5 stars, but I still have one serious gripe. Throughout the world building you see hints of the greater story ready to unfold, building the mystery to be revealed. And then the book just ends. No big reveal, no climax, just a few moments of minor excitement and "Audible hopes you've enjoyed this program". I literally yelled "What? That's it?" at my car speakers it was so sudden. I know the saying is "leave them wanting more" but you've got to give us more to work with. Without it this is more a prologue to the main story than it is a stand alone book.

Yes, the setup is so good I can't even dock it a single star because of the abrupt ending (edit: changed my mind, knocked story to 4). But I'm really wishing I stuck to my convention and waited for more to be released before starting this because it's going to be a long, long wait before I get to see what the real story is about.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

The Quantum Magician audiobook cover art

Greater than the sum of its parts

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-02-19

At its core it's a heist story, but leaving it at that does the book a great disservice.

It has wonderful world-building, distinct and engaging characters, and smart but not unapproachable sci-fi. It's dark and vibrant, gritty and beautiful, disturbing and awe-inspiring. It's got a little bit of everything, but not only that, the RIGHT AMOUNT of everything. Consciously or not, Kunsken really captured the notion of "a candle burns brightest in the dark". I could go on but you should discover the rest for yourself.

T. Ryder Smith is not a narrator I've listened to before but he's perfect for the range this book demands.

Probably the best praise I can give it is that it's going to be painful waiting on the next installments in the series.

After the Galaxy: The Unsung audiobook cover art

Citing Shakespeare doth not make you sophisticated

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-04-19

I know there's a lot of very positive reviews here, which is why I gave the series a shot. But in truth I only made it 4 hours into the first book before I gave up on it. The writing just isn't believable or cohesive. The writer doesn't really know what the story or the characters should really be. Instead it reads like a bunch of moderately disjointed story elements held together with spackle and duct tape. While it's not the worst I've seen, it still had me wincing a couple too many times for me to keep going.

Now if you're not looking for an intense read there are still some interesting ideas lurking just under the surface so maybe your experience fairs better. But for me, this story really needed some more time to bake before being written because it's too raw for my tastes.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Terran Strike Marines: Publisher's Pack 2 audiobook cover art

Not my favorite of the universe, but not bad

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-22-19

It's a credit to the authors and the Ember War universe to compare it to pizza. Even when it's cold, it's still good.

I will say I wasn't quite as gripped with this pack as have been elsewhere in the post-Ember War continuations, but that's a small notch below a high set bar so it's hard to be too critical. My main complaint is that it goes to the well just a few too many times with its main characters, like they're becoming stereotypes of themselves. The characters express their personality through their banter more than anything else but they always banter about the same things over and over. A little more development to fill out their otherwise single-dimension personalities would serve it well in the future. Maybe even throw them a bone and give them a solid win here and there to offset the constant grind.

What doesn't stay static is the universe in which they're a part of. It's always moving, always tying into other plot lines from other concurrently running series, and pulling in those from the original series. Even the second book, which was kinda a little filler-ish if we're going to be honest, still had important tie-ins that made the story feel impactful in the grander scheme of things.

So yeah, while I have a few areas I think could be done better, it's kind of like complaining that I ordered my steak medium and got back something closer to medium-well.

Renegade Star: Publisher's Pack 4 audiobook cover art

Solid Continuation

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-19

One of the good qualities of this series is that the arriving to a (in this case literal) world of endless possibilities isn't the end the story, but merely the staging point. Too many times I've seen sci-fi stories journey endlessly to their destination, often Earth, and upon finally reaching it roll the credits. Wait, where are you going? This was the part I wanted to see! Get back here and world build the rest of it you lazy @#$%!

But the Renegade Star series will actually take those events of 'what comes after' and weave it into its ongoing narrative in stride. We've reached Earth, congratulations! Now lets explore what exactly comes next and start the next journey.

Luke Daniels is one of my top narrators so I'd be hard pressed to give him anything less than 5 stars, but I do have to make one specific complaint. He does an excellent job of crafting a whole library of voices and accents for all the characters he reads for. Sometimes those accents turn out just a bit outlandish, but that's understandable when you're stretching yourself to create more than a dozen unique voices. That being said, a couple of the newly introduced side characters sound like Looney Tunes caricatures. One in particular is supposed to be a fairly important character but she sounds like she should be serving beers at Octoberfest wearing lederhosen 2 sizes too small for her soundingly mannish proportions. If you're reading this Luke, bad Luke, bad! I'll give you a pass this time because you're otherwise excellent. But unless you need to read a character named Bertha I suggest never using that voice again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Red Mars audiobook cover art

Great for the right type of reader.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-18

This style of writing isn't everyone's cup of tea. But you're really going to love that tea if it is.

It's best to think of it as a fictional documentary with ongoing story elements. It really dives into the details of both the human element as well as the (literal) world building. The focus isn't on telling a specific story, it's about creating a very grounded but vivid picture for near-future Mars colonization. It also means that the story side is a slow, methodic buildup. You need a healthy level of patience, or at least a keen interest in the scientific, political, and psychological nuances behind everything.

Richard Ferrone is a great voice for narrating environments. He's not so great at dialog or character voices though. There are some inflections, mispronounced titles, and attempted accents that will occasionally break the immersion. But despite the faults he does a fairly decent job overall and to be fair he gets a LOT of different technical and ethnic names and titles thrown at him over the course of the series.

I'd suggest doing what I did and listen to all three, but between each book take a break with one or two other books in your comfort zone. If you've got the pacing and patience for it, by the end you'll swear the Mars colony was actually real.

Planetside audiobook cover art

95% Excellent. The last 5% mediocre.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-28-18

First out of the way: R.C. Bray is and continues to be my favorite narrator.

Without giving too much away, a great mystery story that does a good job of building over time. Believable characters. Great pacing. And then stumbles a bit when it's time for the grand finale. I don't know if I'd call the ending *bad*, (because I've read my fair share of books that started great but had well and truly horrible endings and this doesn't fit that,) but it wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped. That being said, while in many situations I'd call a disappointing ending enough of a reason to not recommend an entire book, in this case I'd say it's still an overall good book worth your time.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

Galaxy's Edge audiobook cover art

As if Star Wars was rewritten from the ground up

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-10-18

This reads like someone saw Star Wars and thought "I could do better". Then started grinding down the whole story until it was down to the foundation and a couple studs, and rebuilt it into something bigger, grander, and more sophisticated than the original ever was. So much so that you could would hardly believe they were related. I use Star Wars as reference purposefully because while this is very much a story and a universe unto itself, there are small number of small but very specific details that they share. Almost annoyingly so, like the writers were purposefully leaving breadcrumbs. But such things are drowned out in the larger story. And if indeed the writers set out to write a better Star Wars, they succeeded.

Couple things to watch for. The timeline isn't fluid, but it is a little squishy in parts. One chapter might jump to a perspective that was 10 minutes prior the end of the previous. Just be prepared that it will sometimes happen and you'll be fine. Secondly, the second book is a very different pace and feel from the first. It's confusing now, but when you continue on to the next installments it becomes a lot more clear why it was done this way. Just roll with it and you'll be rewarded.

RC Bray continues to be my favorite narrator out there. Probably 70% of what made me pick up the series in the first place is knowing he was the voice for it, and he lives up to my high expectations yet again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Dauntless audiobook cover art

Competent Space Opera

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-17-18

The War of the Ancients trilogy is a jack-of-all-trades. It doesn't do any one thing all that impressively, but it does everything decently. It didn't exactly grip me and refuse to let go but it was nice for a casual listen.

Mark Boyett is likewise fairly solid. Most characters are voiced well, with some small exceptions where he over-stresses his accents. (Sorry, Agatha sounds like Mrs. Doubtfire to me.)

Over all, it gets a solid B or B-. Which is just fine.

Freedom's Fate audiobook cover art

Rushed

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-01-18

On the one hand, it pushes hard to portray the hard grind of continuous fighting and the sheer randomness that can result. Not every little plot line gets fully explained or gets a neat little bow wrapped around it for closure. We're seeing everything through Kane's perspective, and he's not omnipotent. In ways it's actually refreshing. (*spoiler* - We never got to find out whatever happened to Jill and her ship when they lost contact on the way to 61 Cygni.)

But much more than not, the finale reads like the author was scrambling to finish an essay 2 minutes before the end of the test. It was 95% setup, a climax so fast you'd miss it if you blinked, and barely a breath of a conclusion. After all that happened in the series we don't get 2 seconds to explore the results? What it meant for everyone? What the future holds? NOTHING?

The description says "finale" but I can't help but think that only means Adair plans on launching a second series right off the back of this one. It's the only way it makes any sense. Even if true, this deserved way more of an actual ending than the full stop we got.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful