Oh dear gods this book is awful. I mean, really awful.
This is not the case with this book (don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly stellar on that front), this is terrible because it reads like it was written by a 10 year old. It has that level of complexity
This has been the problem with this series for a while now, I’ve complained before about the utter simplicity of the world setting, especially as they’ve expanded too many alien creatures and worlds. I’ve also complained at the utterly simplistic lack of conflict in the conflict with such terribly un-nuanced abilities like being able to “smell” evil (and, of course, the evil being so very very very evil and lacking in nuance or development that you can just kill them). This is the tone of this book. The evil is evil and you just have to kill it (it has no reason to be evil. It’s just evil). It has no subtlety, no difficulty in identification. It’s just evil.
This book takes this whole child-like simplicity and takes it tenfold further.
Firstly there’s Lissa, Supreme Queen of Mary Sues. Oh dear gods she is. And this Sue-ishness is the core of why everything in this book is simple to the point of boring. There are no challenges, none at all. There can’t be. Lissa has super powers, powers that completely eclipse everyone and everything. We open this book with a desperate struggle where the forces of good (and their amazing super powers) are being completely overwhelmed until Lissa arrives and destroys nearly the entire army by herself. There are creatures that are literally destroying entire planets which Lissa completely wipes out in her free time between dinner dates. And the closing scenes of this book involve Lissa pulling off completely unexplained god-like feats with no damn explanation at all. She just ZAP decides the bad guys can no longer have their powers – and lo, entire species across the galaxy are fundamentally changed in terms of magic, physical abilities and lifespan.
Where she gets these powers? I don’t know. And it doesn’t even matter – it’s just a ridiculous over the top tool. Even if you could justify your protagonist having these powers, it’d still be a bad idea because it destroys any kind of tension in the plot. Sure we generally expect the protagonist to win, and the genre is full of protagonists who have awesome powers who we know will win in the end – but when Anita Blakepulls another load of super powers from her vagina, there’s at least an attempt to present the conflict as an actual conflict with the suggestion that Anita COULD lose, that there’s an actual fight
Not in this book. Lissa shows up. The enemy dies. There’s no conflict here. Lissa shows up. Super powers happen. Enemy dies. This isn’t conflict – stepping on an ant has more conflict than this. And it’s boring
Well, of course she’ll have interpersonal conflicts, right? Nope. She is Queen of Sues. Everyone loves her. Everyone. I’m not kidding here. Not one person doesn’t adore her. Half the cast wants to marry her, the other half wants to be her parents or family. They love her. All of them. Unreservedly, without the tiniest shred of criticism or seeing any flaws or issues with her. She is universally adored from the very second when people meet her. And it’s boring. You can’t have a story that looks at character relationships or development when everyone starts as fawning fanboys. She even gets a 21 gun salute from the President even though no-one can publicly explain what she’s actually done. Can you imagine that meeting? “We need a 21 gun salute for this lady with no last name or legal identity for doing stuff I can’t talk about!”
But there’s more gross simplicity: the world building. This is something, again, I’ve complained about before – with Lissa happily jetting about alien worlds and finding them… not even remotely alien. Again, Lissa would find more culture shock and difficulty navigating if she went to modern day China or Argentina or Norway. These alien worlds simply have no alien elements. These alien beings are largely just human with shiny powers
This is compounded this book with time travel which, again, pretty much fails to imagine how Earth would change 300 years in the future. And it shows how little thought has gone into it – Lissa buys a map for crying out loud! Sure it’s an electronic map but the fact it appears on a screen doesn’t change that maps are nearly extinct now! People have “tiny communication devices” like mobile phones – but even a brief look at trends would see our mobile phones have been getting bigger because we expect them to do way way way more things than communicate. It’s just so lazy! It’s just lacking anything resembling imagination or development. Look at the way the world has changed in the last 300 years! It’s mind boggling so little will change
So what about the plot?