The Other, by Marilyn Peake (29 pg preview) - 3 Stars
I received the first two chapters of Marilyn Peake’s new science fiction adventure after requesting it through Instafreebie. I really liked the cover as it had that sort of Independence Day vibe and the author’s introduction to the book sounded good too: “People begin seeing UFOs and strange, alien-looking creatures with humanoid shapes, green skin and large black eyes. In places where this is happening, doctors report the spread of a mysterious virus that scrambles people’s thoughts and causes hallucinations.” That sounds like a rollercoaster action movie too, so checking it out seemed obvious.
As I say, I’ve only read the first two chapters as only a teaser has been revealed so far. The pace is fast, as it jacks into the plot without delay and very soon there are UFOs escorting 747s and buzzing interesting bits of our planet. The protagonist appears to be a female scientist with a morally flawed thug of a brother and she’s racing past Roswell through a sky full of foo-fighters when the teaser chapters abruptly end. So, is there any point reviewing two chapters, totalling 29 pages? Can anyone get a proper feel for the book? Is it even fair to give it a star rating? I’ll try to give my impressions but I can’t review what I haven’t had access to.
It seems to be a fast paced ride, which encourages people to keep reading. The protagonist is resourceful and compassionate, so might be a plausible heroine or could be a disappointing G.I. Jane – who can say at this stage? The brother obviously deserves to die but I expect she’ll try to redeem him because most of these stories show characters changing for the better as a result of the experience, being tested and forged in fire. The aliens seem to be invading, so that might mean it’s a survival story rather than a UN negotiation. I very much like the imagery of the 747 passengers looking out of the window as the silver UFOs draw alongside the windows. That would be cool. Worth dying for.
The aspect I didn’t tune into was the use of language, as I thought the sentences could be extended to paint in more description and feeling. It’s less like a poet eulogising a flower and more like a mechanic going through the functionality of tools. Maybe the character we have been given sight of is practical, pragmatic and doesn’t have time to put words into colour but there’s also a good chance the storytelling is all like this. Really though, are the first two chapters the best material in most books? The author can’t impress you with their art if they have to dedicate the opening to context setting and character introduction, so is it possible this preview isn’t representative of the whole? This will be a bull-ride of an adventure novel, so don’t expect lyrical exposition because you are unlikely to get it, but I haven’t seen enough of the story’s development to comment on the quality of imagination, originality and surprise. It might get better but I can only rate what I've seen.