Rating: 3.5 stars
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Kelly Sutton is thrilled to be working at the Photonic Royal Society in New London on the top secret Project Mars. It is so secret Kelly knows next to nothing about what they are all working on, but he does know it is benefitting mankind and he is lucky for the opportunity.
When his boss starts acting suspicious and Kelly does some snooping, however, he learns that the project is nothing like he thought. Rather than helping the world, Project Mars is far more likely to destroy it. Now Kelly must decide if he should risk his job and even his life to take a stand and stop the project, no matter what the cost.
So this is a book where there is a limit to what I can talk about without giving away some basic spoilers about the story and the other hero. This stuff is revealed fairly early on, but still there is an element of surprise to the story, so bear with me as I am going to be a bit vague and use some spoiler tags.
I liked the set up here with Kelly an enthusiastic intern thrilled to be on this major project, only to find out that everything he believed about it is a lie. There is some romance and a bit of suspense built into this alternate world, futuristic story. Overall I feel like the plot was engaging and I like how the story plays out. As always, Cochet’s writing is solid and the story flows smoothly.
My issues here mostly centered around things being a little too simplistic and aspects of the story being too weakly developed. This is a novella, so not a long book, but I still felt like there were quite a few areas that needing fleshing out. For example, we know that the story takes place in the future in an alternate world where the major governments have collapsed, but we get no information about when it actually takes place, nor anything about the current political system, or much world building at all. We learn the government is involved in the bad stuff, but I had no sense of anything about the government structure (or even certainty about the country).
I also think the plot takes some shortcuts here as well. This is kind of a story you just need to go with without a lot of questions, but I still found myself struggling to ignore things that seemed too easy. For example, at one point Kelly unexpectedly ends up spending months away from home with no contact at all with the outside world. There is never any concern about whether his friends or family might be wondering where he is, or what is happening to his apartment while he is gone, or who is paying his bills, or anything else. Also, after all this time working on the project and being kept totally out of the loop about what’s going on in this super secret, hush hush government conspiracy, suddenly this lowly intern is brought into the middle of it and none of these higher ups seem to question it. [spoiler] I mean, when he is living with Mars, none of the top level people on the project care? Who was doing this job before him? How is it he basically just moves in there after things are so top secret?[/spoiler] There were just so many things that seemed to be way too easy in order to make the plot work, and I had trouble ignoring the holes or areas where things didn’t fully get explained.
I did like these characters and I liked the idea of them together. I didn’t totally feel the romance here as things happen pretty fast and we go from friendship and attraction to the risking my life for you stage pretty quickly. I don’t think I had enough of a sense of Kelly as a character to understand his big epiphany moment when he goes from running to deciding to fight.
So I guess the bottom line here is that this is an entertaining story, but I felt like it was missing the depth that would really make it totally shine for me. I read it in one sitting and it is a quick easy read, so if you are looking for something light with a futuristic bent and a bit of suspense, this may be a good choice. I enjoyed it, but I would have appreciated it more if the story had been more fully developed.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.