Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: The Alecto Initiative (Loralynn Kennakris, #1) by Owen R. O'Neill

The Alecto Initiative (Loralynn Kennakris, #1)The Alecto Initiative by Owen R. O'Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life's never easy out in the Methuselah Cluster, the most remote region humanity ever settled, but when her alcoholic father found her a 'job' while he went off-planet to look for work for a 'few months', 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn just how ugly it could get. Within the year, her employers sold her to a brutal slaver captain, who took from her the last thing she owned: her name.

Most girls in Kris's position last a year or two. The strong ones might last four. Kris survived for eight before she was set free, thanks to the Nereidian League Navy.

Unfortunately, eight years growing up in Hell prepared Kris for nearly everything but freedom, and her new life isn't at all what she imagined. Not only must she find her way in a bewildering society full of bizarre rules, but the very people who rescued her think she's a terrorist plant, a beautiful interstellar celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and now someone is trying to kill her.

But Kris hasn't stayed alive by respecting boundaries or obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it's like to collide with a someone who has no concept of a no-win scenario.

The Alecto Initiative is the gripping story of an extraordinary young woman forced to come of age while looking Death in the eye. It is the powerful and thought-provoking beginning to a new science-fiction series unlike any you have ever read.

Question: What would the probable result be if a physicist and a fantasy writer were fused together?
Answer: One probability would be the Alecto Initiative, the first of the Loralynn Kennakris novels.

I am a geek when it comes to anything science fiction, which makes me really picky when it comes to novels of that genre. I've read a lot, graduating to the likes of L'Engle in my teens and Herbert & Co when I was older. So, I skeptically started off The Alecto Initiative ready to compare how it would live up to my writing heroes.

Since it's a sci-fi novel with a female lead, I expected to find a smart aleck woman heading a bunch of incompetent men. Surprisingly, Loralynn Kennakris is a genius, self taught teen who can stand up to and work with intelligent men that view her as an equal - or a threat. She quite reminds me of Ellen Ripley (Aliens) who uses body and mind to survive.

The interjection of quantum and black physics into the framework of the novel was another surprise for me. It seemed unnaturally well-researched (I even had a suspicion of it being copy/pasted from a paper somewhere) until I found out that Owen O'Neil is a physicist and only then truly welcomed the intricate explanations that were the basis of the story. Not so much of dry facts here. Physics comes alive and sometimes with a wry sense of humour. For example, calling a
definitive study of hyperlight travel the Grand Unified Theory was genius. His G.U.T.? Love it.

Neither is this a fluffy book. Those who read Asian sci-fi and manga would liken this to a light novel, the more word-filled version of written anime. There's tons of blood, gore, and violence so it's not recommended  for the 14 and under set.

Interweaving the age-old themes of white slavery, child selling, and human trafficking with the more modern fears of bio-implants, brain washing and memory tampering, and suicide bombing using innocents then setting it in a futuristic timeframe makes this one tale that will keep your mind ticking all throughout.

You may ask - why 4 stars and not 5 if I am gushing about this novel? The physics parts, while NOT stuffy and lifeless, are enough to make your head spin if you have no passing interest or background. But since these explain why the actions taken must be such, you can't (and shouldn't!) skip over them to get to the rest of the story. Otherwise, you would just get lost. It's ok for me, since I love the stuff, but I also realise not everyone will appreciate it.

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