Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 4, 2006

Survival by Julie Czerneda

Nine people attended and eight started the book, but only five finished the book. Two had read Julie Czerneda before. Those who finished were generally favorable with some criticisms. Recommended for those not put off by the criticisms. Positive comments included “good storytelling”, “well paced”, a good read, and first rate writing. One reader got a “yellow submarine vibe” in that it provided a completely non-human environment as a well developed strange surreal alien environment. That reader can’t wait for book 2 (Migration, now available in paperback).

The book was variously characterized as space opera, with lots of character development, a travelogue, action, mystery, and (for one reader) a bit too much romance. Even that reader said they still liked the book. Others did not object to the limited romance aspect so it may be a matter of taste as how much romance you like in your novels. The “surprise” of the mystery was telegraphed for those looking for it.

The science was strongly biology oriented and the descriptions of interactions of researchers in a field research environment seemed real and plausible. Some key aspects of the alien biology was considered implausible by a few. Others considered that part of the suspension of disbelief we grant the author to allow story development.

Every so often the book had a short “Interlude” about action happening away from the main characters which many readers considered distracting. It was not clear how they tied into the story or whether the interludes were past history or current events relative to the story. This reader dealt with the Interludes by pretty much skimming and mostly ignoring them.

There was a near consensus that the opening 130 pages moved slower than the rest of the book. That was the part considered travelogue or research in progress. One reader liked that section. Others thought the book would have benefited if the author had found a way to trim that section by half. Those that did not finish got bogged down in that portion. All five of those who finished the book liked it and recommend it.

The book is part of a series of at least three, but makes a reasonably complete tale in itself. The next book, Migration, does explain some significant issues which are left open by Survival and provides fresh issues to consider.

— Patrick McGehearty