“Sidus, the First of His Kind” by Dan Sugralinov

Once the real-time story starts, a rather iffy plot twist sends the main character, Carter Riley, into the bureaucratic nightmare that mirrors the reality of many wounded ex-soldiers. He finally hits bottom by way of a ten-year jump to where a series of coincidences propel him into an increasingly far-fetched futuristic universe, where survival is determined by a points system lifted straight out of a digital game.

A lighter vein in the story is provided by his daughter’s pet hamster, whose reactions to the various adventures give us relief from the gritty seriousness of the hero’s situation.

Once this complicated setup has been achieved, the story evens out into a straight action plotline, with Carter and his new allies bettering their chances to survive through participation in an arena-style battle game and battling in the real world with a gang of bullies. This plotline carries us through to the end of the novel but not the end of the story, as this is Book 1 of a series, and it ends rather suddenly on an anticlimax.

As I hope you have already realized, the problem of this story is the fragmented plotline. The “rules” of novel writing are not hard and fast, but they exist because they work. Any time you jump your plot ahead ten years or break the action to explain a historical discovery or describe a completely new alien environment, you stop the flow of the story and lose the suspense you have built. This happens several times in this novel, and each one would be a place where a reader who was not completely engaged might put the book down for good.

This is a fun read with neat characters, but the structural flaws make the suspense very uneven. Recommended for action adventure and digital game fans.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.

About the Author: Gordon Long

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