Truthfully, I generally don’t gravitate towards books set in outer space, and it took me at least fifty pages to move past the setting. Part of that is clearly my own taste, but the other reason is that the novel is set amidst multiple galaxies on a space ship. Because the scope is so big, readers are constantly introduced to new worlds and aren’t given a lot of time to explore them. Had we gotten to really know one planet well, it would have helped to acclimatize quicker. Though this is a lost opportunity for both the authors and the readers, perhaps we’ll get a more consistent setting in subsequent books. With that being said, by the end of the novel, I no longer cared that the book was set in outer space. The more I read, the more engaged I was with the story and what would happen next, which is a true testament to the plot.
I loved that all the characters, protagonists and antagonists, live in a gray area. None of them are purely good or purely evil, which makes their motivations clear and understandable. The book is told from six different perspectives, half of them on one side of an outcome, and the other half on another. As a result, who I was rooting for was consistently fluctuating, and it got confusing at times to have six voices in play. Honestly, the constant shifting between them all detracted from the momentum of the story. It may have worked better if some of the P.O.V.’s had less air time, making those story threads more minor, or they could have just cut a few. Dex and Lira’s backstories, for example, could have been saved for novellas later down the line.
Interestingly enough, the book is more than five hundred pages, and the story still jumps over so many events. In other words, we as readers don’t get to see certain moments play out, but we know they happened because of a sentence in the next chapter. Those missed scenes were the ones I actually wanted to read. Instead, others were prioritized that probably didn’t need to be in the book.
Alsberg and Cummings embarked on a huge undertaking with such an epic tale. They had a difficult time setting everything up in the first novel, but now that that’s accomplished, they can have fun with the sequel. I have very high expectations for the next book. Not only do the authors have a better understanding of the ZENITH world, but they also will work together even more flawlessly, knowing each other’s strengths and being able to play into them.
I’ve been a huge fan of Sasha Alsberg’s YouTube channel for a while now. Her book reviews are always insightful and oftentimes, I agree with her opinions. When I heard she was co-writing a novel, I wanted to support her and see how she’d apply her analytical skills to her own story. I am so excited for her and proud of all she’s accomplished. I’m also especially grateful to her for introducing me to Lindsay Cummings’ work.