Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for the book. If you’re bound and determined to read this book, you may want to bypass this review.
This book was pretty painful to read. I didn’t like any of the characters, the story wasn’t all that interesting, and there were a lot of errors with extra words being inserted into sentences where they didn’t belong and other words missing altogether. I didn’t count the number of errors, but I would be surprised if there were less than 50. At one point I stopped reading to double check the publisher, because I thought I must have grabbed an indie book by mistake. Nope, this was published by Tor. Maybe the editor had trouble reading the book too.
The story is set in Earth’s distant future. A probe exploring deep space captures a few minutes of footage showing dragon-like creatures moving around in an accretion disk. The creatures appear to have physical properties that could help humans generate energy better if they could study one, so an organization hires a small crew of three plus two additional scientists to take a space ship out and try to capture a dragon.
It takes the characters a third of the book to arrive at the area where the dragons had been seen. Up to that point, the book is primarily about getting to know the five characters populating the ship during the long voyage into deep space. In the very beginning, they don’t seem too bad. Before long, however, I was hoping their ship would explode with all hands on board so the story could pick up with a new batch of more likeable characters who would make a second attempt.
The captain of the ship, Lena Fang, is a control freak who feels like she needs to prove her worth as captain. One of the scientists, Samuel Fisher, is a control freak himself and he’s completely obsessed with the dragons. Initially, these two hook up, but then they have a dramatic fight which just makes them each become crazier and more obsessed with their own goals than they were before. This leads them to work against each other and jeopardize the mission. We also have a slight love triangle here because the space ship’s artificial intelligence, with a personality modeled off of Ernest Hemingway, seems to fancy himself in love with the captain.
One of the other crew members hooks up with the second scientist. The voyage is going to take over a year of subjective time round trip, so the theory appears to be that everybody will surely have to pair up to stay sane and the characters waste no time in doing just that. These two are probably the least unpleasant characters in the book, but they get less “page time” than Fang and Fisher.
If you’ve been doing the math, you’ll realize we have an odd man out who’s failed to pair up with anybody. He’s none too happy to be left out because apparently he hasn’t had sex in a reaaalllly long time on account of his being busy with his long-term goal of impregnating the entire female population on Earth by releasing a virus that carries his genes. I swear I’m not making this up.
The plot itself was pretty bare-bones… Travel to place with dragons. Try to catch dragon. Discover dragons aren’t so easy to catch. Mayhem ensues. Most of the story was taken up with developing the characters, none of whom I liked, and I never really got into the plot about capturing the dragon. The only reason I’m giving this two stars is because I did manage to finish it. For me, a one-star book is typically a book so horrible I couldn’t finish it at all. This book wasn’t quite at that level, but I did consider giving up on it a few times.