Crucible Zero by Devon Monk
I have binged on this writer in the past. I discovered one of her books, read its sequel. Then I went to her earlier series and read all of those. It took me maybe a week. And then I had to wait for this conclusion to the original series.
I really admire Ms. Monk’s work. I also appreciate watching her talent mature. And Crucible Zero didn’t disappoint. It was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Wouldn’t really stand alone, but I don’t expect book three to do so.
It was, however, extremely straightforward. When I was growing up there was an old hymn that said “We’re marching, marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion…” I often hear that song (usually sung loudly and slightly off key) with plots like these. No real twists. Straightforward objective. See the hill, take the hill and then go home. Or to Zion.
It can be done well, as it was here. Or not so well. Or just flat out boring. But I’m always left a bit flat. It seems to me that plots are best circular — a spiral actually — that return you to the starting point, only changed for better or for worse. Straight line plots are like straight roads across the plains. You get there quickly, but the scenery gets old.
The Lost Series by Cynthia Eden
I usually read Cynthia Eden’s paranormal books. But this suspense series (two books so far) caught my eye. I like her books, and these return to a lower-key writing style.
I particularly like her ability to create characters who have emotional scars but who open up to love one more time. Sounds sappy, but her characters never are.
Aurora: Eden by Amanda Bridgeman
I’ve had some issues with this series, and I’m not sure I’ll buy the next one. This book rambled and took a loooong time to make very little progress in the series arc. Meh.
But more troubling is the gender roles. And now the complicating issue is the parentage of the twins by different fathers. Much is made of the fact that the fathers and grandparents need to be involved in his child’s life alone. It seems to me that the actual genetic father is irrelevant. I expect parents with genetic and adopted children to love both equally. Yes this is a bizarre twist, but the drama over it doesn’t work.
It seems like the author needed a plot device to increase the emotional trauma, and is milking this one for more than it can really give. She has so many good ideas that really this one isn’t needed. Most certainly its being asked to do more work than it should.