Friday, May 23, 2014

A Fantasy/ Sci-Fi hybrid with mixed results

Artificial Gods

By Thomm Quackenbush

Publisher: Double Dragon eBooks 

Pub. Date: January 21, 2013

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush is the 3rd book of the Night's Dream series. Looking at the description of the first two novels, it is hard to figure out just what the connecting theme is, not to mention that the main characters do not appear to be the same. But upon reading this basically sci-fi book, I can say it works fine as a standalone novel.

Jasmine Brown witnesses a UFO in the upper New York state town of Pine Bush. Jasmine is rather skeptical of the sighting. Actually she is rather skeptical of many things including relationships and her sister, Chrys (short for Chrysanthemum, poor girl). But the next day, a visit by a couple Men in Black starts to make her wonder what is going on. Jasmine, Chrys and her friend Dylan ("He's not my boy friend!") become involved in strange incidents including fanatic UFO believers, mystical happenings, and pretty much every UFO phenomena known to man.

It's a enjoyable book but it's that "pretty much every UFO phenomena known to man" that keeps me from giving it a solid recommendation. I felt like the author thought he had to throw in everything about UFOs he knew. We have missing time, gray space creatures, cattle mutilations,...even Aleister Crowley get tossed around in the convoluted theory that drives this novel. It becomes a little too much for this reader and I felt the author was taking on too much for one novel. Jasmine, Chrys, and Dylan are interesting characters but the strange events often become far too numerous to allow me to stretch my capacity to suspend disbelief. I also wasn't quite sure whether this was YA or adult. The three teenagers felt like YA characters yet the level of drama and violence made me wonder.

There are some nice things going on. It is definitely a fun novel with lots of questions and weird stuff for the reader to decipher. That's the plus side of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. The author writes in some delightfully odd characters which may or may not be villains. But I missed any level of tension that is necessary to keep the reader enthralled; something that is essential for a darkish fantasy/sci-fi hybrid such as this. And again, literary restraint can be a good thing. The audience for this book, YA or not, would be young adults who have an interest in UFOlogy and the mystic. So if you are in this category, I would recommend it...just not very enthusiastically.

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