Review: Unheard Destruction by Zach Sweets

Unheard DestructionRating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Hal and Rusty celebrate their fifth Valentine’s Day with a special meal and then retire to the bomb shelter Rusty built for some uninterrupted time cut off from technology.  After a heated round of love making, using a sex sling Rusty purchased as a Valentine’s gift for them both, they collapse in bed inside the shelter until morning. When they wake up the next day, they find the world as they knew it destroyed.  A brief search turns up nothing but devastation, but no bodies.

Rusty and Hal begin the search for survivors, but are concerned that as two deaf men, they may be in danger from the very people they are trying to find.  Adding to their frustration and fear is the perception that the environment is changing around them.  Where there was blood on the wall, it suddenly disappears.  Where there was once a house, there is now a serene park-like setting with no debris.

In their continuing search for survivors, giant fireballs sweep through the town.  Rusty and Hal hide in a restaurant fridge but get separated in the ensuing explosion and Hal is captured by what is described as a nine-foot-tall black and aqua-skinned alien with sharp teeth and a tail.  With Rusty looking on, the alien gives a signal and all three of them are transported away.  Rusty awakens to find himself on a ship and eventually sees Hal, locked in an electrified cage being carried by a number of the aliens.

Rusty discovers that he can communicate telepathically with the ship’s A.I. program, Assim, and learns that the ship has in fact been hijacked by the aliens, called Mindjasks.  With Assim’s help, Rusty manages to save Hal and elude the Mindjasks.  They meet Nji, the ship’s captain and sole survivor of the original crew, who telepathically shares her memories of the takeover by the Mindjasks with Rusty and Hal.  Nji tells Rusty and Hal that humans have power, but don’t know how to use it, and so she works with Rusty and Hal to help them discover their power so that they can battle and defeat the Mindjasks.  An accident lands Rusty and Hal in the middle of a room full of Mindjasks and with their newfound powers, they easily defeat one, and now need to figure out how to defeat the rest.  Hal begins to doubt Nji’s sincerity, but follows her instructions, knowing that his and Rusty’s lives are at stake unless the Mindjasks are killed.

Unheard Destruction has a good premise, the basis for some great characters and situations, but I found that the story and characters were lacking depth.  Rusty’s survivalist behaviour was not too extreme, and Hal is more sensitive but has martial arts training, which makes them a pretty good team.  It is nice that the Rusty and Hal are in their late 30s or early 40s, not terribly common in romance, but refreshing.  Their commitment to each other is evident, and I really liked that their lives are not all “rainbows and unicorns” either, which adds some realism.  Another unique aspect of Unheard Destruction is that both main characters are deaf, a first for me as I have read other books with one hearing impaired main character, but not both.

I found the flow challenging at first.  The writing feels stilted, possibly to match the precision of the sign language being used.  Fortunately, I did become accustomed to the style quickly.  Another area where the dialogue feels stilted is when Nji shares her memories with Rusty and Hal.  I noticed that the Mindjasks and Nji can speak to each other, and wondered how?  The two species had never met before, how could they share a common language?

There were some editing issues throughout the book, and the pace of the story was on and off.  At times I wondered if the story was going anywhere. Where is the sense of urgency?  Why is there no tension?  I also did not feel much emotion from the characters; they are upset and sobbing on each other’s shoulders and it was just not translating from the page.  Also, while I don’t think any of us can truly say what we would do in a post apocalyptic situation, I would think that sex would be pretty low on my list of priorities.  Needless to say, Rusty and Hal sure do like fucking and decide that if they are to die, might as well get busy and man, do they ever “love” each other in a short period of time.

This is the first book in a trilogy, so while Rusty and Hal’s relationship has weathered the horrors thrown at them so far and appears stronger than ever, things are looking pretty bleak for both men.  Their future is up in the air, and we don’t find out exactly how they will deal with all these dramatic events that happen at the end of this installment.

I have read some of the masters of science fiction over the years, which is what drew me to Unheard Destruction.  Sadly, the overall product left me feeling flat, so if you are a hard core science fiction fan, be warned.  However, if you are the type of reader that likes a light, “post-apocalyptic, love conquers all” story, this should be right up your alley.  I am interested to see what happens to Rusty and Hal in the second volume of the trilogy as Sweets left the boys with few options and some very important decisions to make.

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