Format Read: ebook provided by Publisher
Number of Pages: 167 pages
Release Date: 7th of February 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: A New Dawn #3
Genre: Sci Fi Romance
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | Author’s site | Publisher’s website – FREE on Amazon right now
After watching his love leave on a colony ship, James Wilfred must save those left behind from a planetary apocalypse. Their salvation lies in an unfinished ship tucked away in a secret government base, and only James can break in and pilot him and his people to freedom on a nearby space station.
Skye O’Connor’s boyfriend never returns after his gang attempts an assassination of the Governor, and the State Building is destroyed. Worse, crazed moonshiners addicted to the chemical Morpheus have stormed the city, and she must find a safe place for her and her boyfriend’s daughter. When a heroic man saves her, Skye asks to accompany him on his quest to find the last colony ship left on Earth.
As the city falls around them, James and Skye must work together to build a new future, all the while rediscovering their ability to love, before the apocalypse claims them both.
Marlene: The story in A Hero Rising takes place directly after, or directly before, Tundra 37, depending on how you look at it. In Tundra 37, Mestasis, one of the twin Seers guiding the generation ship The Expedition, has detailed memory flashbacks of the doomed love affair she had with James, just before she left Earth.
James was a leader of one of the gangs, the Radioactive Hand of Dawn, and like Moses, he arranged for some of his people to reach the promised land of the escaping ships, but he couldn’t go himself. Supposedly, he had a heart murmur that made him a genetic risk. Maybe the leader of the expedition rigged the tests. It didn’t matter. James was the kind of leader who couldn’t leave his people behind. And 300 wasn’t the entire population of the Radioactive Hand.
There was another ship. Incomplete. And out in the wastelands. One that maybe James could fly. If he could reach it. But the human leaders were abandoning the city in three days, and sending nukes in the minute the last ship lifted. Moonshiners, drug addicts who had become more alien than human, were infiltrating the city like plague rats. James had one last chance to save his people. He just picked up a couple of passengers along the way.
Has: I really liked the main plot which lays out the reasons why the humans escaped Earth. It definitely felt more grittier and darker than the previous books, although once again the romantic sub-plot for me was a lot to be desired. James who appeared in flashback scenes in TUNDRA 37 is the main hero, and it starts off straight after the Expedition has left the Earth. James determination to help the remaining humans who didn’t succumb to drugs which has changed them into deranged monsters or starvation was great and it did help that his character was established in the last book. However I did find Skye’s character a bit lackluster for me. When James saves Skye and her boyfriend’s daughter Carly from a marauding Moonshiner (an infected drug addict) they team up to find the ship to save a number of survivors who are deemed unworthy or who were unable to leave.
I found the romance sub-plot again like the previous books, rushed and underdeveloped. It was hard for me to believe that James who just literally left Mestasis and Skye who was still in a relationship with her boyfriend Grease who is from a rival gang (albeit their relationship was on shaky ground and wasn’t serious) would suddenly fall in love over the course of the story. I would understand if there was hints or a promise of a new beginning which is a major theme throughout the series, but I felt this subplot detracted a lot of the attention and time from what could have been a tightly paced story.
Marlene: It was great to finally see the backstory of Earth’s “end of days”. To be seeing the story of one ship after another and not to see what drove them out into space felt like something was lacking in the background–A Hero Rising fills in that background by personalizing with someone we’re already familiar with from Tundra 37.
Also, if you think about it, Striker, the hero in Paradise 21, is probably descended from James’ people. Which is pretty cool.
On the other hand, I’m really, really, really not sure about putting a romance in this story. It’s the sub-plot, just as it is with all of New Dawn series, but with this particular story, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea. James’ true love Mestasis just left on one of the generation ships. When he just missed saying good-bye to her, the sheets weren’t even cold yet. Seriously.
Skye’s boyfriend, and the father of her step-daughter, is a member of a rival gang. He’s also a moonshine addict. And Skye says that she only stayed with him because she wanted to be a mother to Carly, not because she loved Grease (what a name, by the way). But still, the insta-love between James and Skye is skeevy in the extreme, even under these conditions. Or maybe especially under these conditions.
Has: I totally agree and it is not romantic at all, although I would understand if there was hints especially since Skye’s relationship with Grease was on shaky ground. But I felt there was so much going on in an otherwise short novella, especially with the world collapsing, with rival gangs fighting, law and order fragmenting and increasing number of addicts becoming Moonshiners. I loved the world-building and the premise but that romantic sub-plot really put a dampner in my enjoyment of the book because it tarnished the characterisation for me. Especially since there was a huge build-up for James and Mestasis and it undermined their romance with how quickly he switched from missing her to insta-loving Skye. I did like the set up on the origins of the space-station and its new population which really adds another element to the series. But overall, I was very disappointed in how the romantic elements overshadowed the main story for me because the one thing in a romance that I need to believe in is trust and commitment and they were not apparent in the foundation for Skye and James.
I also felt Carly, Grease’s daughter’s reaction to his fate and how quickly she trusted James and Skye for that matter was unbelievable. There was a suggestion that Skye was only involved with her for a short period despite her father being irresponsible and not around as much – it would be very hard to believe she would trust almost strangers with what was going on. I wished more time was expended on developing the relationships.
Marlene: Earth is about to get bombed back to the Stone Age, her leaders are abandoning her along with whoever they think are the elites, and the rest of the planet can go to heck in the proverbial handbasket. Meanwhile, there is some strange and highly addictive substance that turns people into aliens if they use too much, and James has three days to find this last ship that maybe is finished enough and maybe he can fly. And his girlfriend just left the planet. Romance doesn’t happen. Hot sweaty “let’s screw one more time before the world ends” sex maybe happens. That would have been realistic, but not in keeping with the way this series is written.
There is a part of me that wonders about Skye. She latched onto Grease because she wanted Carly. Now she’s latched onto James because he’s her best chance at keeping Carly safe. That’s not romantic either, but it’s a darn good survival instinct for a mother in extreme circumstances, which is what Skye is.
Ms. Dionne writes excellent space opera adventure plots, but the romances tend to fall down somewhere. IMHO it’s because the heroines tend to be more than a little bit on the stereotypical side. This story takes place in the what century?
Has: That is my gripe about Skye although it is understandable in reacting this way but trying to enforce feelings makes the romance feels forced and unrealistic. However the description and scenes of the rival gangs, super tower blocks where the rich reside on the top floors and the poor on the bottom fighting for scraps was vivid. I really enjoy the tapestry of Aubrie Dionne’s world-building, it is really well thought out – I agree that the romantic elements for me is the weak point for this series.
I think that rushing the romance and using the insta-love trope rarely works and I am a romance reader at heart but I think in this case, if the romantic elements was subtle or removed this story would have been a much stronger novella.
I also wished there was more expansion on the mining on the moon and how people got infected. I was immersed into this sub-plot and it was intriguing especially since it looked like the human addicts who succumbed to the infections were evolving into different alien beings.
Marlene: The gritty despairing flavor of the world going down the drain was incredibly well done. I was so involved with that part of the adventure, I wanted to know more about everything. How things got so bad, how the gangs developed, and especially about the moonshine. There was also something going on with the moonshine or the moonshiners at the place where the abandoned ship was kept. I wondered about that, too. It seemed like there might have been some experiments that got out of hand, but I wasn’t sure. I’d rather have seen more of the science fiction and world building elements and less of the romance.
I used Battlestar Galactica as an example in the review of Tundra 37, I’ll use it again. At the end of the pilot, Roslin says that they need to make babies. They’re the last population of humans, and she’s right. While there are implications that some people might couple up, in the heat of the immediate crisis, it doesn’t happen right then!
Has: I totally agree – and I think the emotional element doesn’t always hit that sweet spot for me. The world-building and plots are rich, well thought out and it does leave you hungering for more. I also love on how plot threads tie with previous books and the seeds of the series is certainly planted with this novella that sets up series although I recommend you read the previous books first because it makes more sense and that is the key of a good prequel. However the romantic aspect is a huge fail for me, and in this case it was the weakest book in the series. I dislike the fact that James who literally left the bed of Mestasis develops strong feelings for Skye in a matter of days and Skye’s character never really rings true for me. But the tale of survival in a harsh and unforgiving world which is full of greed, desperation and humans turning into nightmare creatures is memorable and addictive. It is hard for me to rate this book, because whilst I enjoyed the setting and plot, the romance detracted a lot of my enjoyment, but because of how it panned out I am going to give it a 2 out of 5 stars.
Marlene: If I were Skye, I would be scared to death of being the “rebound romance” for James, because he refers to Mestasis as his true love at the beginning of A Hero Rising and is planning a future with Skye by the end, just a couple of days later. That’s too fast and way too unrealistic, in a story where the romance is the only part that can be “real” because everything else requires a serious willing suspension of disbelief. Instead, the science fiction absolutely rocks and the romance trips the disbelief-o-meter into the “no way/no how” zone.
The world-building ties up a whole bunch of prequel-type loose ends from Paradise 18 and Tundra 37, and tells an amazing “save humanity from the monsters” science fiction thriller into the bargain. James is the type of hero who would still have saved the mother and child without needing to fall in love with the mother. He’s just built that way.
I’m still going to give A Hero Rising 2 ½ stars for being half of a really awesome story.