I’m tempted to give this book a glowing review simply because it has a really clever and funny Lord of the Rings reference snuck in there. But I like to think I’m better than that. If only by a little.
Taking place right after Sunreach and before Cytonic, Re:Dawn stars Alanik, the alien Spensa disguised herself as in Starsight. Shortly after returning to her homeworld, Re:Dawn, she discovers that the Superiority has made moves to force its political situation in their favor. Left without allies, Alanik must return to the humans to try and earn their aide, rekindling an alliance between their two peoples. But does the peaceful Alanik truly know what she’s getting into, allying herself with the most aggressive species in the galaxy?
I have mixed feelings on this book. There’s a lot of stuff I really like. At the same time, though, there’s a lot of stuff that feels like it got rushed past far too quickly.
Alanik is a fantastic character. She is simultaneously very naïve and knowledgeable of the world. She’s well aware of how Cytonic powers work and how the Superiority’s oppression affects her people. Yet she has an innocence to her; having grown up within the Superiority, she has never had to kill anyone before. Suddenly having to ally with an aggressive species and actually fight to kill puts her in some unique positions that make for fantastic narrative drama. Plus, she has fantastic chemistry with Skyward Flight, bouncing well off of those who trust her and even those who don’t.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast isn’t nearly so compelling. Skyward Flight is as fun as ever, sure. But most of the new characters don’t get the time they need to develop. From Alanik’s allies to her enemies, none of them are given enough focus to become a well-realized character and feel more like obstacles in her way that spout the same lines of dialogue over and over again.
The same can be said for the setting. Re:Dawn is a cool planet in terms of aesthetics. It’s a freaking gas giant, and all the people live on floating trees! That’s really cool! Unfortunately, we don’t get all that much time to learn about it. About the people who live there and their culture and why we should care about the conflict they’ve been dragged into.
I’m also not super into the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s decent. It’s shocking, tragic, and it sets the stage for the series going forward really well. But to me, it felt kinda rushed. Like they wanted to end in tragedy rather than triumph and just sped up to get there.
If I had to choose between the previous novella, Sunreach, or this, I’d definitely choose Sunreach. Not that Re:Dawn is bad. It definitely has plenty of strong points to it. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a perfectly fine bit of sci-fi.
And a perfect appetizer for Cytonic.