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Friday, 15 April 2016

Book Review: Ascension by Jeannie van Rompaey

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Meet the mutant humanoids. They may look a little different from us, but inside they're much the same as you and me. Left on a diseased Earth, they live in windowless compounds, safe from the contaminated wilderness outside. Safe, yes, but their lives are restricted.

When the mutant humanoids discover that some complete human beings, completes, have also survived and are living greatly improved lives on satellites, they determine to rectify this imbalance and claim their share of Earth's heritage. Three-headed Ra rules the humanoids with ruthless precision, but others are involved in a power struggle to depose him. Who will succeed in being the next CEO of Planet Earth?

Sixteen -year-old Mercury plans to start a new life on Oasis. Will it prove the Utopia he expects it to be?

Ascension, the first novel in Jeannie van Rompaey's Oasis series, explores with humour and compassion the way humans respond to change. The future worlds of Earth and Oasis mirror our contemporary society. The division between the haves and have-nots widens and the lust for power leads to corruption. But there are idealists determined to build a fairer, more egalitarian society.

Image: Authoright PR
Before I get into the review, I should first mention that I often struggle a bit when it comes to sci-fi novels. I don't dislike the genre (far from it, there are some fantastic sci-fi books out there) but I find a lot of sci-fi to be too generic or far-fetched for my personal taste. However, earlier in the year I read Solarversia, a brilliant sci-fi book by indie author Toby Downton, and that seems to have rekindled my appreciation for the genre.

Plus, when I looked into this book a little more, I discovered that the author, Jeannie van Rompaey, was actually brought up in Northamptonshire, where I'm from. Northamptonshire (despite being a comparatively large county) is often overlooked, so it's really nice to have something to celebrate from my home county. Who doesn't love a local (ish) author?

Power struggles

Anyway, on with the review. If I'm honest, I found the whole premise of the story a little difficult to get into. However, I did enjoy the 'us versus them' aspect, especially as it's highly likely that would actually happen should the situation the book details arise in real life. I also enjoyed reading about life in the compounds, and the power struggles between dominant characters.

The characters themselves were largely overbearing and actually quite selfish, but despite that I still wanted them to succeed. In an atmosphere like that, survival of the fittest is key, and that fact is self-evident throughout the entire book. It was also interesting to see how quickly the characters could change sides and forge different alliances depending on what would suit them best at any given point in the story. You get the feeling that they're all in it purely for themselves, and in my opinion, this constant back-and-forth power struggle between the key characters is where the real meat of the story lies.

For me, the story struggled to accommodate the 'completes living on hundreds of satellites' storyline. Yes, the completes are necessary to the story (and the entire hierarchy of their world wouldn't make sense without them) but the satellites part kind of lost me. Still, things improved and picked up again towards the end, dropping off a bit and leaving things hanging to set the scene for the next book of the series.

Character led

Without giving too much away, Mercury was by far my favourite character and I really enjoyed his storyline, essential to tie the two worlds together. I also enjoyed hearing about Odysseus' work in the histo-lab and museum at the start, though I felt his character became redundant towards the end. There was only one character I couldn't stand - Sati. From the very first time she was introduced, she began to annoy me. I'll leave you to make your own mind up, but she has to be the most irritating character I've read about for a while!

Sati aside, Ascension is a solid story definitely led by the characters. As good as the ending seems, judging by certain events, I'm sure there will be plenty of trouble brewing on the horizon ready for book two...

Rating: 3 stars.

Ascension is available to buy now. To find out more, visit Jeannie van Rompaey's website. I also interviewed the author, Jeannie van Rompaey, as part of the blog tour. You can find the interview here.

Will you be reading Ascension? Let me know in the comments below!

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