Top positive review
Has its flaws but still stands as some of the better work of the genre
on 23 July 2016
I Generally love Alistair Reynolds, and I want to love this, but I can't quite do it. To give him credit, Redemption Ark is still better than a lot of sci-fi, but the writing itself feels a little bit under-thought.
The good: Interesting plot, the Inhibitors are a strong idea and Reynolds universe of conjoiners, spiders, the lost Amarantin and giant computers in dwarf stars - is imaginative and convincingly portrayed. The characters are strongly defined and change actions as they change moods. Equally, long-term character development is well handled. Reynolds does do a little science, but never too much, and he keeps the plot moving rather than lose page after page to explaining some point of physics.
The bad: There are two points, one I can define, the other is a little harder. First, the writing has a horrible habit of repeating itself. For example, five or six sentences will start 'She..'. - She went outside. She saw the ship. She knew it was bad. She hadn't slept for days. While not an actual extract, this gives a sense of the problem, which smacks of laziness and the repetition started to jar with me. Others are 'it neared the nuclear burning core', and then the phrase 'nuclear burning core' is used repeatedly in descriptions and in dialogue. Just 'the core' would suffice, but again, while it may sound pedantic the over-use of phrases really pulled me out of the book and began to annoy me - especially as dialogue because it sounds artificial.
The second flaw is harder to define. Maybe it's a consequence of the first flaw stopping me from becoming really immersed in the book. Whatever the cause, I found myself less gripped than I was by the first novel in this series 'Revelation Space'. I was less convinced by some characters, who's actions felt more like something useful to the plot than something the character would really do.
Overall, I still enjoyed large section of the book and will certainly read the next instalment. My gripes are minor and I would recommend this, and much of Reynolds work, to anyone who enjoys 'grand-scale' sci-fi.