Review: Solarversia

SolarversiaSolarversia by Toby Downton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was contacted by the author, Toby Downton, to read and review an advanced copy of Solarversia. I have every bit of encouragement for him as an author and hope publishing this book, his first novel, will propel him to transform more of his ideas and imagination into written word. Having said all that, I'm going to turn my attention and my "critic's eye" toward Solarversia.

Solarversia is story that attempts to take readers on a thrilling ride through real world and digital crime and puzzle solving. Unfortunately, by the end of the book, I didn't care about the outcome of either storyline. The first third of the book introduced far too much superfluous information about the dynamics of the virtual world; feeling less like the painting of a picture and more like the iteration of every chemical contained in paint. I found myself unable to identify with the characters, nor to care about their struggles. The story picked up pace about midway through the book, but quickly slowed back down again. The wizkid of the story was more kid than wiz and definitely didn't seem like a statistically exceptional individual when it came to puzzles. The antagonists of the story had confusing and unexplained motivations. Worse still, I was underwhelmed by the lack of real world consequences for their real world crimes; it became impossible for me to suspend disbelief and pick a side.

In the end, the story captured my attention only as much as a made-for-TV movie. Having had my opinion solicited for this book, I wrestled with being so candid in my review. However, I think it's only fair that I remain honest with my opinion, even when I can feel the burn of the author's eyes on my words. I think Toby has great potential as a writer, it's impossible to ignore the depth of story and creativity he would like to share with the world. This book tried to put a lot of content into a small space, perhaps this is the result of the author feeling the pressure of his own words: "There can be only one". That doesn't need to be the case here, many more stories can and should be made of this creatively imagined universe. And I promise I'll keep an open mind about reading more in the future.

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