8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Stealing Light (Shoal Sequence) (Paperback)
The book has some very interesting ideas, and the writing isn't bad, but it suffers from some near-terminal limitations. First of all the science part of the science fiction is not well explained and there is little idea of a society shaped by technology. So, if a gadget is needed then it is there, but everything else seems to be more or less as in the 21st century. There is no sense of how anything works or how people and cultures have been shaped by new capabilities. For example, the heroine's ship has a very capable near-AI talking computer. That's great, but there is no suggestion that is unique to her, so why isn't something so useful found everywhere? What would that mean if such things were widely available? Then there is the treatment of space travel, which is a very key part of the plot, especially in the latter part of the book. We are given no idea how sub-light, interplanetary spacecraft work in this universe, despite the fact that their performance is a key part of climax of the story. This gives a sense of superficiality to plot and character interaction as if matters are just arranged as the author wants by magic as opposed to the real constraints of the technology. There are quite a few more examples.
There is actually an even worse problem with the book in the treatment and development of characters. Put simply, the hero is a panic-stricken wimp who seems incapable of thinking more than five minutes ahead. In particular, she is repeatedly assaulted and threatened, surviving through blind chance rather than through any of her own abilities. All of the other characters are similar lightweights and in the end you don't really warm to anyone. If the villains had emerged triumphant then I am not sure that I would have really minded. Now, you could argue that some people really are indecisive, have terrible judgement, poor decision-making skills and are prone to hysteria. These people do exist, but they really don't make good subjects for action-orientated fiction.
This is one for the charity shop.