Emergence delivers what it promises: a book driven by action as the manhunt for Mesa Everitt and what’s inside her head ensues. The sequel to the authors debut Convergence has a completely different pace – one centred more around the action than the story behind why things are happening.
During his promotion of the book, the author wrote on his website ‘… if you’re looking for an intergalactic war with aliens and spaceships…well, I’m sorry to disappoint. But, I hope you’ll give my brand of sci-fi a shot, too. There’s plenty of terrorism, back-stabbing, kidnapping, violence, and mayhem to foot the bill.’ Anyone who bought the book after reading that description of it should find themselves quite happy with it. Hick’s brand of science fiction is filled with the kind of futuristic concepts that I personally love (memory recording, body-swapping and ‘medichines’ just to name a few.) Plug in a strong female lead with issues about her past and set her against the corporations running the show and there’s the basis for what Emergence turned out to be: a fast read with a central character there’s plenty of reason to root for.
Emergence is well crafted and has certainly been polished by good editing and (writer’s head firmly on here) I get the feeling a fair amount of it hit the cutting room floor to get the required pace, especially in the action scenes. Once again, anyone who wants to see self publishing done well, reader or writer, should check Emergence and its predecessor out.
Where Emergence falls short of a four star review for me is that the further I read, the more I felt like I was reading an action movie script adapted for novel form. Well written though it is, the action became relentless and the plot formulaic. One character (no spoilers) was killed in a way I found a little too convenient for the killer and the omnipresent technology wizards in the background provided a lot of the solutions to the problems. Not that I wasn’t entertained throughout, but the reflection and the changes in pace that filled Convergence were largely missing from its sequel. What filled it instead were the kind of fight scenes where the author was clearly enjoying the bloodlust (and let’s face it I can’t exactly criticise someone for this!) but I as the reader ended up asking how much of a beating one human body could realistically take, even in a futuristic setting where a healthy dose of modern medical tech would explain the endurance and the fast recoveries. By the last third of the book I was thinking ‘Here she goes again!’ and feeling like the outcome was a little too inevitable.
The biggest saving grace in Emergence was the author’s introduction of new locations and the description of atmospheres. Just when I thought the action was going to roll for the rest of the book, a brand new place was introduced (I’ll resist details even though it wouldn’t spoil the plot) and things did slow down for a while. Mesa as the central focus of the third person narrative did get some well needed attention on her thoughts and feelings and the moral dilemmas of her life in general as she moves from one vividly created place to another, and at times I felt the almost literary feel of Emergence come back. Once the action was over there was a satisfying epilogue that if anything I would have liked to have seen drawn out with a little more detail (I can’t really say what…spoilers again) and there’s certainly room for another book in the series although I’m quietly hoping that if the author writes it, it doesn’t go down the most obvious track.
Emergence would perhaps make a better film than it does a novel (for me anyway) but there’s plenty to like here, and if you found Convergence to be a little slow in places with too many info dumps then its sequel will probably leave you feeling a lot more satisfied. My own two cents is that the former book gave me more food for thought and shows more of what Hicks can do as a storyteller rather than an action technician.