For Jared, life has boiled down to an everyday act of survival. He and his patrol have learned to fight the invading Outwarders, but their threat is constant and makes it difficult to scavenge for desperately needed food and supplies. The Outwarders have decimated humanity and those few who continue to survive do so in poorly constructed camps where they are utterly dependent upon Jared and the rest of the military.
Avis rarely sees the sun anymore. His work keeps him confined to his laboratory where he valiantly struggles to learn more about the Outwarders and the danger they pose. He’s made some crucial discoveries, but he’s well aware that while humans are winning the occasional battle, they are losing the war. The highlights of his day are the few minutes he gets to spend with Jared. But there isn’t time for romance, not when a new realization about the Outwarders could end up saving humanity or destroying it forever.
Opposites Assent was short, sweet, and, at times, utterly bizarre. The author does a good job of packing a fair amount of world building into a few dozen pages and while the plot definitely needs some fleshing out, there’s more than enough here to grab the reader’s attention. The story takes place after an alien invasion has rendered the Earth a war zone and left humanity a struggling minority. The author has done a great job of describing the terrible conditions in which the humans are living and how tenuous their existence truly is. We’re told there is a Council that is supposed to be caring for the survivors, but instead they ignore their obligations and live in relative opulence. But we really aren’t told any more about them and given the climatic end to the story, I felt as though this particular entity needed more exploration.
Both Jared and Avis are fairly well developed given the confines of the story length. They are both leaders in their own way and both are burdened by their respective commands. Though certain aspects of their relationship felt a bit rushed, on the whole their eccentric courtship works. There is a secondary cast, but they end up being shadows rather than important to the story. Well except for the alien lizard babies.
Ok, so here’s where things get weird. There are several homicidal alien lizard babies, one whom is named Donnie, that become critical to the action. I can’t give away too much but sufficed to say the last eighth of the book went a bit off the rails. Things got gory and violent and for no reason that made much sense. As a result, I went from being entertained to confused and a little annoyed. And while I enjoy alien lizard babies as much as the next person, I need them to work in context and not just serve as a hinge for violence.
Opposites Assent started off strong and for most of its plot remained a fairly enjoyable story. The main characters are engaging and the storyline moves quickly and generally smoothly. Unfortunately things take something of a dark turn towards the end of the book. And while I am not bothered by the graphic or the violent, the finale of Opposites Assent didn’t mesh with the rest of the plot. So, if you enjoy quirky and quick science fiction stories and don’t mind an ending that goes a bit haywire, you’ll probably enjoy Opposites Assent.