We had our external reviewer, Chris, stop on by for a new review! It has been a while since they published on our site so we are super excited to hear their thoughts on Mathematics of Eternity by David. M Kelly. This was a part of a Breakeven Books Book Tour being hosted.
Synopsis: Joe Ballen dreams of returning to space, but after an accident left him half-crippled, he scrapes a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore.
When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous conspiracy centered around a prototype JumpShip. No one believes the ship will work, not even the space-faring Atolls who have barricaded Earth from the rest of the solar system. But someone is murdering everyone connected to it.
As the bodies pile up, Joe becomes suspect number one, and his enemies will stop at nothing to hide the truth. With the help of a disturbed scientist, a senile survivalist, and his glamorous boss, can Joe untangle the puzzle and uncover the truth before he becomes another statistic?
You can ask Joe anything, except to give up.
Well, that was a good read! I enjoyed it.
It had action, interesting science, and a world that sets up the potential for far more stories. In places it read like a blockbuster action movie in that it kept me entertained. And like blockbuster movies it contained implausible coincidences, last-minute save-the-day scenes, humorous quips during times of great peril, plot holes, and common tropes. But it was all part of the charm. I read a third of it at night, then the rest of it the next day. I couldn’t put it down. I love me a good noir-type mystery set in the near future; and I think it has a better basis for a good sci-fi movie than many of the ones that make it to the big screen.
The main characters, Joe Ballen, is an engineer who used to work in space until he was severely injured on the job. He now works as a (flying) cab driver on an Earth despoiled by a changing climate, rising seas, and geopolitical, economical, and environmental collapses. His physical and psychological injuries make him a bit of an anti-hero who just wants to be left alone; he slowly and reluctantly gets pulled into dangerous scenarios until the best way for him to get out of the mess is to keep on going and figure out who is after him and why.
Originally, I was worried the whole book would be action scene after action scene, but in the latter half of the book it slows down a bit and gives the characters time to flesh out. I enjoyed the scene on the ranch for a personal reason. An old side character is given more room to come to life, and he reminded me of my dad. Like my dad, this character liked restoring old machines, and like my dad, his failing mental sharpness led him to putting things together the wrong way, something that never would have happened previously. I felt for him, and I could have given Joe a hug for how he handled that situation to keep his friend’s dignity intact.
I did have a few minor nitpicks, and I mean really minor. For example, a tooth from a falling body gets lodged in a bystander’s muscle tissue. Unless that tooth was fired from a gun it won’t penetrate clothing even at terminal velocity. It’ll may not even penetrate skin. It certainly won’t bury itself deep into muscle. I also wondered if the author was an amateur geologist because characters eyes were often likened to various stones and minerals (note: that wasn’t a nitpick. It’s one of those things I sometimes see and get curious about; e.g., authors who are foodies tend to describe their characters using food metaphors—coffee-coloured skin, strawberry lips, etc).
Another minor nitpick involved the police. Without giving spoilers, they think a certain person is responsible for a murder, but that murder would involve having access to a very expensive and illegal bit of tech. If they’d done a background check on their suspect they’d have determined he would be at the bottom of the list of possible suspects. Instead, they get downright obnoxious and unprofessional in their accusations. Even when they revisited him, it seems they still hadn’t done a proper background check. Much later in the book there is a possible explanation as to why they were this way, but it still doesn’t make sense from a plot point of view.
But I emphasise these and other things are minor nitpicks. The more I got into the story, the more engrossed I became. Now I want to read the rest of the Joe Ballen books because one, I want to hear more about Joe, and two, because I want to see what the author does with the universe he’s built. There’s potential for some Expanse-type story lines.
I’d rate it 4.5 stars for a fun action story with engaging characters and a plot that can lead to something much bigger in future books. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Book Rating: 4.5/5
You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to Chris in ebook format for the book tour to read and give an honest review.
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The Magical Readathon: Orilium is back! I’m going for Beast Master again and I am hoping to crush this TBR. It definitely made me find some interesting books to read and I am excited to share them with you. Comment below if you are participating too!
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