Book Review #4: Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands by Scott Roche

Title: Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands
Author: Scott Roche
Publisher: Flying Island Press
Available: ebook (Amazon, Smashwords, others) paperback (Barnes and Noble, Amazon)

I’ve known Scott Roche for quite a while now. I’ve reviewed his first novel, Archangel, as a podcast novel here on the blog. When he completed this story a while back, he asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing it. At the time I wasn’t reviewing print books. That was then.

On to the review.

Synopsis: Ginnie Dare is the communications officer for her family’s space faring shipping company. They arrive at Eshu for a routine supply drop and discover that the entire settlement’s population has vanished. Their search of the site reveals nothing out of place, except the people, but ends in a tense confrontation with the natives. During the conflict, Ginnie discovers an alien artifact that may be the key to diffusing the conflict. Can she decode the artifact before it’s taken by the Sector Defense Force? Will it help them to discover the missing colony’s fate? Or, will the whole thing spark an interstellar war? (The preceding synopsis was stolen from the Amazon.)

Setting: Most of the story takes place on an alien planet. One of the things I like about science fiction is the setting can be as normal or extra-normal as the author likes. Mr. Roche brings us a setting that is enough different from our own to allow him to set the rules, while at the same time similar enough to give us easy points of reference. He keeps it consistent throughout and allows us to experience this environment with the characters.

Grade: B

Plot: As the above synopsis describes, the plot of the story revolves around a puzzle/quest with a time sensitive pressure keeping everything moving along at a good clip. Worth noting is the change of antagonist three quarters of the way through the story that was clever enough to catch the casual reader unaware.

Grade: A-

Characters: I really enjoyed Mr. Roche’s characters. And no, not just the one that bears my namesake. Each of the main characters, especially Ginnie, lived and breathed as much as any character I’ve ever read. Ginnie definitely came across as the character she was written as: an astute and inventive prodigy that is still very much a 14 year old girl.

Grade: A

Odin’s Recommendation: I love a good young adult novel, and make no mistake Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands is good. It was better than I had hoped for. Having read several of Mr. Roche’s short stories and having listened to Archangel, I can assure you that Ginnie Dare shows remarkable growth and a maturing style. The editing is fluid and reads easily, though not perfect. The punctuation between paragraphs of dialogue being conducted by the same (uninterrupted) character isn’t quite normal, but it’s of little consequence. How much did I enjoy this book?  I’ll be buying a paperback copy to share with my son.

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