CSFF Blog Tour – The Return, Day 2

First the commercia … uh, the reminder … yeah, the reminder I promised to post – 😀 Merrie Destefano, science fiction author and editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, is running a two-part interview with yours truly over at her Alien Dream blog. On Wednesday she’ll have an exclusive, but you’ll have to learn about that at her site. 😉

On we go! My contribution today to the September CSFF tour for The Return is to do a review of The Proof, Book Two of Austin Boyd‘s series, The Mars Hill Classified (NavPress).

The Story. At the end of book one, the protagonist of the series, John (Hawk) Wells and his wife Amy, agree he should accept the assignment to participate on the first manned flight to Mars. The Proof is primarily the story about that flight, and yet, at the same time, it is so much more. The political intrigue and religious fervor that began in the first book because of the apparent appearance on Mars of alien life forms, become even more intense. John’s inner demons—and Amy’s—must again be faced and conquered. And just when triumph is within grasp … a critical event that serves as the catalyst for The Return takes place.

Already that brief summary tells you more than I would like, but I don’t see how it can be helped. If you want a much more specific summary check out John W. Otte‘s review of all three books. He has a real knack of distilling the story to its fundamentals. If you want to know what happened in books 1 and 2 before you read The Return, John’s summaries will be especially helpful.

Strengths. So far The Proof is my favorite of the three books. I suspect this is because the interpersonal relationships move to the forefront, as do the inner conflicts. I also felt like I at last connected with the characters. Their struggles worried me. I found myself thinking about them, and grieving for … what they grieved. (Almost, you caught me giving a spoiler! 😛 )

But I think there is plenty of science and exploration for those who enjoy that aspect of science fiction. There was much more intrigue, mystery, and suspense, too. Lots of good action and some crime solving/terrorist hunting, such that one of the minor characters emerges and becomes a secondary hero.

Obviously there is an abundance of subplots, but in this book I did not feel yanked about. The points of view didn’t seem to shift as often. And if they did, perhaps I had become more familiar with the characters, so the shifts didn’t leave me trying to remember who was who nearly as often as in book one.

Weaknesses. I had one moment of deep disappointment, but it turned out to be the final twist in the unpredictable plot, and in the end left me wondering about the characters and looking forward to diving into the The Return. In other words, I can’t think of anything I’d consider a weakness. This is the book I think you’d miss out reading if you started with The Return. Not because Book Three would be confusing. No. Austin has done a good job reminding readers of what took place in Book Two.

The big loss, in my opinion, would be in knowing these characters and what makes them tick, in allowing the suspense to grow, in trying to see through the intrigue, in being surprised at the plot twists, in agonizing with the protagonist over the amazing, fearful adventure he must take.

No, the only weakness is that The Proof, like a middle child, might be overlooked.

Recommendation. Highly recommend for all readers.

Here are the others participating in the tour. (Be sure to check out Deena’s interview with Austin).

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Terri Main Rachel Marks Karen McSpadden Eve Nielsen John W. Otte Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz James Somers Speculative Faith Steve Trower Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Published in: on September 18, 2007 at 9:58 am  Comments (4)  

4 Comments

  1. Of all the books I’ve read in series format, this middle book had me scrambling to the store to get the third one.

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  2. I started with #3, something I’ve never never done before. There was a slight feeling of “Previously in The Mars Hill Classified Series…” But as a newbie reader, I needed those parts.

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  3. Very good interview, Merrie and Becky. Articulate and astute as usual, Becky. 🙂

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  4. Becky,
    This review really makes me want to read “The Proof.” This is also the book by Austin that was nominated for a Christy this year.

    Nicole,
    I’m glad you liked the interview! And I agree, Becky was quite articulate–a great spokesperson for our genre!

    Go team.

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