Flotsam (Peridot Shift 1) by R J Theodore

Stars: 2 out of 5

DNF at 45%.

There is a good book hidden somewhere in there. Unfortunately, it’s buried under tons of overwritten plot and bad characterization. It feels like this story isn’t quite done yet. It need more time to “cook” in the author’s head, or maybe a strong developmental edit.

The premise is fascinating: a whole planet shattered by a cataclysm that left it in chunks. Yet somehow life still exists there. There is atmosphere and gravity even if that revolves around the “islands” – floating bits of planet. There are five “gods” that remade their respective people in some ways to facilitate their adaptation to this new environment. And these deities are not fictional. They exist, they interact with others sometimes. There is a mysterious ring and some even more mysterious aliens. And the crew of a smuggler’s ship caught in the middle of all of that. Sounds interesting? Sounds like lots of fun and action, doesn’t it?

That promise kept me going for almost half the book. That’s when I realized that the flaws of the book made it almost impossible to enjoy the story. I was skimming most of the chapters just to get to the juicy bits, but even those weren’t enough to keep me interested.

This book is horribly overwritten – I don’t need descriptions of what every character is wearing and all the weapons they have unless it’s relevant to the story. And while yes, I’m interested about how Sub Rosa was founded, I don’t need 6 pages of exposition about it. This kills the momentum and makes the book a chore to read.

The other problem is the extremely stilled and unnatural dialogue. The characters don’t talk like people. In fact, most of the time, the characters barely talk. The protagonist talks and assumes what her crew is about to say from their posture or the look in their eyes, when they barely said a word or two before she interrupts them. This is extremely irritating and makes the protagonist look unstable, even unhinged sometimes. Prone to mood swings and quick to lash out… without any provocation. 

This impression comes from the fact that the author tells us everything, but is very bad at showing it. So the author tells us that the crew is being insubordinate and even disrespectful, but nothing in the scene actually “shows” us that. Half the time, when I read those scenes, I came away confused – exactly why did the protagonist lash out? Nothing in the dialogue provoked that response. I don’t really want to follow a character I don’t like and can’t understand.

All of these flaws just kept adding up and by the time I decided to say goodbye to the book, I was just not getting any enjoyment out of the experience.

PS: I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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