Because I Promised — A Review of The Return

In September, during the CSFF Blog Tour for Austin Boyd, I promised a review of The Return when the CFBA tour featured the book because I did not finish reading it. For some reason, I didn’t realize the CFBA event ran for only two days, so missed it. I intended to post my review over at Spec Faith last night, then thought better of it.

This is actually quite hard, and I’m only doing it because I said I would. You see, as much as I loved the series over all, especially considering that it is science fiction and I generally don’t read science fiction, the third book was a bit of a let down. I hate to write that.

I’m not changing my mind at all about my recommendation of the series. You can read those reviews here, here, and here. But the truth is, Book 3 of the Mars Hill Classified series may have suffered from the CBA rush to put out a book every six months.

I could be wrong about that, but the end felt rushed. In part. It also felt slow.

I know those two statements don’t seem compatible, but here’s what I mean. And be warned, from this point on there are spoilers.

As to the “rushed” part, I felt some of the characters didn’t have proper motivation: May for following bad-guy scientist Rex all the way to Mars (and remaining loyal to him) when it seemed apparent he was having an affair with reporter Adrianne. (Not to mention that she gave her daughter a Bible and a cross but didn’t apparently believe what she’d written in the front of the Bible).

Another character with motivational problems, in my opinion, was the evil mastermind behind the plot—her reasons were sketchy at best.

Ultimately the “evil” came from a government, which was not developed properly, in my opinion. Foreshadowed, yes, but for three books we’re caught up with the evil machinations of specific people, only to learn that we were looking in the wrong place.

Which brings me to the slow part. From the beginning of The Return, those we rooted against, for the most part, are dead. The only “bad guy” we want to see foiled is a dupe for someone else. It’s hard to care greatly that the man gets his, when he believes what he says and is doing what he’s told.

In addition, because each book is written from multiple points of view, we the readers already know what is going on, whereas the characters do not. John, for instance, does not know his wife is still alive and being held captive. Amy does not know John has returned to Mars. So much of the story of The Return is the characters learning what we already know. These sections were slow, I thought.

All that being said, I am still glad I read the series, and especially glad I read the first two books as well and not just The Return. Perhaps without the first two books, I wouldn’t have found The Return to be slow-paced, but I also would have missed out on the riveting suspense of the second book.

Austin has done a great service to science fiction fans. Yes, it is “near science,” nothing far flung, but rather taking existing science to a possible next step. The books address big issues and make readers think about the ethics connected to our technological advances. These are necessary points for us to consider, because surely, if we don’t, a Rex or Malcom Raines or Dr. Bondurant will.

Published in: on November 1, 2007 at 11:30 am  Comments (2)  
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