by J. Patrick Black
Series: Ninth City Burning #1
Published on June 6, 2017 by Ace
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
For fans of Ender's Game, Red Rising, and The Hunger Games comes an explosive, epic science fiction debut...
Cities vanished, gone in flashes of world-shattering destruction. An alien race had come to make Earth theirs, bringing a power so far beyond human technology it seemed like magic. It was nearly the end of the world--until we learned to seize the power, and use it to fight back.
The war has raged for five centuries. For a cadet like Jax, one of the few who can harness the enemy's universe-altering force, that means growing up in an elite military academy, training for battle at the front--and hoping he is ready. For Naomi, young nomad roaming the wilds of a ruined Earth, it means a daily fight for survival against the savage raiders who threaten her caravan.
When a new attack looms, these two fledging warriors find their paths suddenly intertwined. Together with a gifted but reckless military commander, a factory worker drafted as cannon fodder, a wild and beautiful gunfighter, and a brilliant scientist with nothing to lose--they must find a way to turn back the coming invasion, or see their home finally and completely destroyed.
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I think this might be the first book I’ve read involving aliens.
And it wasn’t too bad. I think what struck me first was that Ninth City Burning seemed to have its own unique edge on the whole alien business. I’m not all that familiar with alien sci-fi, granted, but I liked how it brought in more fantastical elements, different dimensions, the various points-of-view drawing together this vast world.
But that’s where it started having some issues. There’s a fine line when it comes to character perspectives. Too few (when using multiple) can sometimes limit the world view, depending on how large of a world you’re creating, but too many and it gets cluttered. This book fell more on the latter end of the spectrum and I think it would have gone better to step back and break the world down into smaller parts, exploring those in richer detail. I only recall a few of the PoVs used which just shows me the others weren’t adding anything memorable.
Much like the characters, the world is blown up in full detail and I was ready to zoom out. Too many storylines, too much detail. Ninth City Burning felt like it was trying to be an epic fantasy in the sci-fi genre but didn’t have the length to really warrant the heavy-handed descriptions nor the character development to expand the cast in a way to make ALL the PoV characters meaningful.
That said, I did enjoy parts of it. The first part, especially, hooked me initially and I kept a decently strong interest up until about a third of the way through. From there, it slowed down a bit and the ending became a chore. Yet I ultimately enjoyed the world, the story though it didn’t quite shine through as much as the world, and some of the characters. This seems like the kind of book (and I don’t say this too often) that would do well as a visual medium, where all those world-building elements are represented on the screen and the story can come into better focus. After all, the premise is fairly simple: alien attack. I just wanted more depth to it.
Not bad. Not great. Not sure if I’ll read the sequel.