I just finished the book last night and in retrospect, I guess my overall reaction is an exhale, and a Wow.
Spire is an elaborate and very much involved introduction into a new world, new government and control, new generation of youth, new concept of mental and physical enhancement, new politics, new players in the market, new elitists, new middle class, and unfortunately, the same resilient majority.
In this book, we are also introduced to anti-hero, Joshua, and a cast of other anti-heroes, all non-conventional and leaning to an independent, underground line of thinking. Joshua is still evolving in this volume, and even after the story closes, I am still unclear as to what he can do to thwart the current status quo and bring about a positive, productive change that provides hope to the masses. Or maybe this isn’t that kind of story. I admit through that I usually prefer a story’s lead to make a difference in the world he lives in.
It’s two out of two now for me – as far as Safronoff is concerned. I loved the initial book of Sunborn Rising, and the colorful cast and worlds that he created there. This time around (although he wrote this first), I am very impressed by the way he describes emotions, thoughts, physical transformations and action scenes. I am amazed at the clarity of how he envisions future tech and future drugs.
This will sound strange, but the experience of reading the main characters drug-induced hallucinations and physical transformation is similar to how I felt when I viewed my first laser disc movie - The Doors by Oliver Stone (back in my teen years ha ha). I don’t know how else to describe it. It was a visceral experience.
Writing quality was excellent and impressed the nerd in me. I found the pace too slow though. Since this is just the introduction, it will be hard to determine an appropriate pace of the succeeding books. The cast is huge, so to develop even the 5-6 key characters, and allow us as readers to be part of their lives will also be challenging – it will almost require a book each, if everything is to be held consistent.
Joshua exhibited a lot of unique abilities and probiotics – this is inferred a lot, but not clearly defined as to what (1) he is truly capable of that others are not (2) where these abilities will be useful and (3) what exactly he is able to resist. Maybe a short description of the horrors that befell others or the evil master plan of the powers that be will help highlight him strongly, and also build up the hope that he brings to the current state of things. I also am unclear as to what the motives of the other key characters are. Maybe a zoom out will help.
This particular installment was so involved and personal. Now I look forward to more of the plot unfold, and the characters given their own backbones and story lines.
This is a great introduction to a potentially explosive series. I can see why it won awards. I will sound off my comments on the next installments as they come along.
Post note: I see that Book 2 is out but the first review isn’t exactly encouraging. I hope the story holds and that the criticisms will only serve to bring out the best that this series can be.
Available in Amazon.