Orbital by Andrew Mayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Recieved this book in anticipation of a review
As I mentioned in my review of the previous book of this Duology, I got this book free and so I went back and bought the first book. Where the first book is a self-aware reconstruction of the thriller action book, this book is more of a detective novel; in SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE! So it’s a MUCH, much slower pace than the first book. As I mentioned in my status updates – that’s fine with me because the pacing should serve the story. And detective stories are usually a much slower pace than thrillers.
BY THE WAY – spoilers for book 1 below.
This book picks up EXACTLY where the first book left off. Dixon, our protagonist, is falling through space with the barest of protection after having saved the world from nuclear EMP destruction of technology. The previous plot had me a little nervous when he’s rescued, but this is not that story anymore. Mayne does a good job of dealing with the fallout for Dixon of being inadvertantly involved in spy stuff (technical term) – making it as realistic as he could while still giving our character a bit of plot armor. Let’s just say that, given what happened to Dixon with the DIA in the first book, he’s a bit ballsy with the CIA in ways I wouldn’t have had the balls to do. So eventually he ends up doing spy stuff again after what I think is a pretty logical series of missteps. That snowballs into more spy stuff and at about the 44% mark we’re at the meat and potatoes of this story.
That’s probably what costs the book that elusive fifth star for me. Mayne NEEDS this in the book because it’s logical, makes the story more believable, and grounds Dixon’s actions. But it means we’re nearly halfway through the book before we get to the real plot. And with how much fun Mayne has with the cast of characters on the space station, I wish we got to spend more time there. I’m no published author, so I can’t say how it could have been done better, it’s just a bummer.
At least once we get up there it’s great. There’s more discussions of tech that may come to pass, great attempts at subterfuge, awesome feats of duct tape, and horny astronauts. Wait, what? Actually, what I like about that last one is that it takes what I enjoyed about the last book – Mayne’s resistance of the thriller trope that the guy and girl have to hook up – and builds a real relationship that the aformentioned sexnaut challenges. It moves that particular plot point forward and gives us more inside into Dixon.
In the end, Mayne has done a great job because I want more Dixon and, hopefully, Laney. As is often the case, perhaps we don’t get any more in this universe because it would be a stretch for Dixon to keep ending up in these situations. And the audience rarely knows what they want and when they get what they want, it’s not always a good thing. But I wouldn’t mind Dixon and Laney on one of those deep space missions they’ve mentioned in the books. It’d be fun to see them in that kind of high stakes environment and what Mayne can do with that.
So, do you like mysteries? space nerd stuff ? spy stuff? Yes to one or all three and you’ll enjoy this book.