“The Aviator Awakening: Vor’s Shadow Trilogy: Book One” by M. C. Elaine

“Aviator’s Awakening” is listed as a Space Opera, but it doesn’t fit the genre comfortably. It has the prerequisite alien species, neatly conceived and well-described. It has the military setting, with a hazy background of interstellar war, but the action takes place in a very restricted setting, and the majority of the conflict is either interpersonal or inside the main character’s head.

The main conflict revolves around the main character, the “Aviator” who has no name and no memory of who he is, but he has strange powers to read and manipulate electrical circuitry. He is apparently a unique individual the military wants to duplicate. The resulting struggle is between the Aviator trying to regain his humanity and place in society, and the emotionless elements of the military, who treat him like a lab specimen.

The psychological part of the story is its strength. The scientific framework of the conflict is well thought out, and the main character’s reactions to the way he is treated are realistic, detailed, and sympathy-provoking.

The most interesting secondary characters are the two beings in the whole story whose actions are motivated by sympathy and humanity. The rest are rather stereotyped.

The tone of the book is very dark. The main character is putting up a futile battle against huge odds. His supposed objective is to solve his amnesia and find out who he really is, but he never makes any progress in that regard.

The “B” story (the romantic part) doesn’t start until a third of the way through the story. It is a breath of warmth in what has been until now a cold and hopeless landscape, but it plays a minor part in the total story arc.

Unfortunately, the whole story (and especially the first third of it) is just too long and repetitive. There are several different sequences that happen over and over again, and the small amount of progress the Aviator achieves does not make them worthwhile.

Then the whole thing breaks open in the last three chapters, and we have a real Space Opera battle through a space station full of enemy soldiers, a daring escape through a screen of enemy spaceships, and a crash landing on an alien planet. It’s almost enough to make me want to read the next book in the series.

4 Stars

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery

About the Author: Gordon Long

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