ARCs, Merritt Graves

Lakes of Mars

Author: Merritt Graves | Self-published

Aaron Sheridan doesn’t want to live anymore. His entire family had just died in a shuttle crash and he’d been the one flying it. Unable to deal with the guilt, he signs up for the Fleet expecting a fatal deployment to the Rim War, but instead ends up at their most prestigious command school, Corinth Station.

Initially, he’s detached from the brutality of his instructors and the Machiavellian tactics of the other students there, but after he sticks up for his only friend he makes himself a target of the most feared cadet on the station, Caelus Erik. Unsure of whom to trust and worried that anything he does will make others on his flight team targets as well, Aaron retreats deeper and deeper inside himself. However, when he discovers that officer training is not the station’s only purpose, it becomes increasingly clear that risking everything is the safest thing he can do.

I requested Lakes of Mars through Netgalley primarily because the description sounded interesting. But, secondly, because I’ve been really trying to give sci-fi a go. I’m a massive trekkie, so I thought hey, maybe… And I’m sorry to say, it’s not for me. I have yet to find a single sci-fi book that blew my mind, and changed my opinion of the genre. Some I’ve liked better than others, for sure… Haze: The Devil of Dublin was pretty good. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like sci-fi. So, I think I’m just done with genre.

I should say from the outset, there were a lot of things I appreciated about Lakes of Mars. It’s got some great descriptive language, and the action scenes are great, very well-plotted and quite mesmerising. And the beginning was, actually very gripping. You get inside the main character’s head, and there’s a bit of mystery about what’s going on and who he is. It made for some good tension and intrigue, which always gets me hooked. The ideas behind the plot were actually good. Chips implanted in people’s head, so the government can read their thoughts and steal their more interesting ideas? Terrifying! What a fantastic idea to incorporate into the worldbuilding. I read the first few chapters eagerly, thinking “wow, if this is sci-fi, I may have been missing out”. And then it lost me…

There was a massive overuse of synonyms, which I found irritating. I wanted more worldbuilding all the way through, because passed the first few chapters I thought the book lost its sense of place. And the dialogue was, quite frankly, confusing and superfluous. No-one talks the way the Lakes of Mars characters do, and I found it impossible to relate to them because of it. I actually got a little bored of their jibber-jabber. It added absolutely nothing to the story arc, or even character development. This I could possibly have overlooked, if the plot itself was more interesting. It was a good idea, but it just didn’t have the pace, the twists and turns, to keep my attention.

I’m sorry to say, this book was not for me. It wasn’t “bad” per se, but it felt unfinished. I couldn’t relate to the characters, I thought the dialogue was confusing, and the plot was a little slow and underdeveloped. This, for me, was a classic example of a self-published book that needed a good editor. The ideas were good, it just needed to be tightened up a little.

Rating: 2/5

3 thoughts on “Lakes of Mars”

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