The third installation in a series is usually a bit of a toss up. Will it be terrible like the third book in the Maze Runner series? Or completely epic: like The Bourne Ultimatum? Or somewhere in between, like Thor: Ragnarok? These were not questions I asked myself when I got my hands on a copy of Perihelid, book 3 in the Recovery series by S. Alex Martin. The only question I asked myself was: Will I be able to handle all of the awesomeness?
See, S. Alex. Martin is one of the few authors I have complete faith in. His writing talent, heart for science, and purposeful themes never fail to impress. I enjoyed his first book, Embassy, adored his second book, Resonance, and, of course, loved this third book, Perihelid.
The Fleet is in Ruins.
The Drake vanished in the chaos, and thousands are dead. A rescue crew could be weeks, even months away, and Arman Lance and the Ember’s other survivors must find a way to survive until it does – if help is coming at all.
As efforts are made to determine the cause of the crash, Arman struggles against the relapse of thoughts weighing heavily on his mind, threatening to unravel the purpose he has tried to create for himself since joining the Embassy Program.
In the aftermath, the survivors discover what could be the most important revelation in centuries: the crisis on Belvun may mark the beginning of an even more desperate disaster.
Perihelid picks up right after Resonance's cliffhanger ending. Things aren't looking good for Arman. The Ember has been disabled, leaving himself and what's left of the Ember crew to find a way to survive until a rescue crew comes. Which would be difficult enough if the crew themselves weren't suffering from the deaths of many friends and loved ones who I will not name, but who's departures I am still sad about. *pauses to wipe away tear*
As a fan of darker books, the mood of Perihelid, though surprising, is one that I really appreciated. From the portrayal of depression, grief, guilt, and hopelessness to the use of strong language, the darker, more serious elements in this book were very well-played and well-handled. They were not only necessary to the plot and Arman's character development, but also took this series in a new, fascinating direction. It appears that the next few books will be handling topics of political intrigue and intergalactic...things (I'm trying to keep this review spoiler-free and it's hard, okay?).
I was honestly very surprised about a few of the character deaths...and the resulting turn that this series took. The first two books in the Recovery series have very hopeful, bright moods that feature the anxious, depressed Arman learning to open up and live his life. Book 3 is grittier and causes several major setbacks in Arman's life and outlook, but in the end spurred some really cool character development. There was even a touch of spirituality as Arman learns to believe in something bigger than himself (to my Christian followers: No, this book isn't Christian, but the themes of faith and spirituality were interesting and well-thought-out).
After the death of...certain characters...he slips back into his old ways of apathy and self-pity, which had me whispering in a horrified tone: "Nooo. You can be better than this! You were so close." Thus, when he started turning things around again, I was excited to see this character who's been through so much ultimately fight to keep moving forward. It lent an element of hope and inspiration to balance out the darker tone of the story.
Arman wasn't the only character I was rooting for or felt a deep connection to. Perihelid introduces some new characters that I really enjoyed. They brought extra depth to both the plot and Arman's character, proving Martin's skills in the character development department once again.
True to form, this book also included a good amount of science, which pleased the nerd in me. Gotta love science fiction that has actual science in it. It's a dying breed, so let's take a moment to applaud this series for continuing to uphold the wonders of science.
I honestly only had a few issues with this book, all of them minor. The pacing was a bit slow at points as some of the more intriguing reveals came very late in the book. And, while I'm sure that being stranded in the middle of space with a rescue crew a long way off would be bad, I couldn't quite place my finger on why so many characters were feeling hopeless to the point of committing suicide. I would have liked some more information on the exact situation: Were they running low on food? Was the ship short on energy? Was there really that low of a chance of being found by the rescue crew? Perhaps this was addressed and I completely missed it, but I felt that the secondary characters' reactions to the situation could have been filled out a bit more. But, all in all, any hiccups in this book were few and far between.
Suffice it to say that this series had a lot of unexpected twists and turns that excited me. I am a fan of the direction this series is heading and cannot wait for book 4. I wish I could go into some of the new plot points, but can't find a way to discuss them without spoiling anything. However, there is a solution to that: Go read Perihelid and then come back and chat with me about it!
Have you read any of the books in the Recovery series? If not: You are making poor life choices. Head on over to S. Alex Martin's website and read them all! If you're a fan of excellent character development, great world-building, thoughtful writing, or science-based-but-still-accessible-to-everyone sci-fi, his books are for you.
This book was supplied to me for free in exchange for a free review. All thoughts are my own.