TracingTheStars.com was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review and was subsequently blown away by the awesomeness of this book.
After reading and very much enjoying book 1 of the Endure series, Maven (4 Star review of Maven on TracingTheStars.com), I was really excited to receive an advanced review copy of the sequel, Nemesis. Within the first few chapters, I could already tell that S.A. Huchton had raised everything to a whole new level. I wasn’t ready to hand out the five-star rating quite yet, but by the last chapter, it was a no-brainer. Nemesis is intelligent, hard science fiction romance, where the science fiction of the story is just as important as the romantic elements.
I almost hesitate with calling it “hard” science fiction because I don’t want to chase away readers who prefer softer or speculative sci-fi. Although the science is instrumental to the plot and obviously well researched, it isn’t impossible to read or understand. I’m not a hard-science fan, normally. In fact, that was one of the problems I had with book 1, Maven. Where Maven struggled to incorporate all of the really great and well researched science fiction into biteable chunks for us softer-science folks, Nemesis succeeded in making me rethink my stance on hard sci-fi. Huchton made both the computer tech side of Daniel and the micro biology side of Lydia consumable, approachable and avoided using overly technical info-dumps.
Nemesis picks up the story of Dr. Daniel Brewer, computer/software engineering genius, and Dr. Lydia Ashley, marine/micro biology genius, as they continue to investigate the mystery surrounding the secret Maven project. The general plot line involves running secret investigations with a selected team on board the Endure, an undersea research facility, in an attempt to discover who is behind the Maven initiative. The Maven project was introduced in book 1 as a genetically engineered bacteria that could be used as a weapon with global consequences. Other familiar faces also make appearances, including Cordy and Tony.
New faces are also brought in that add both conflict to the plot and to the relationship development between Daniel and Lydia. Daniel and Lydia are struggling with having to divide their time between their normal Endure jobs and the secret research they are doing. This leaves little time for their relationship and they find themselves stumbling. The relationship conflicts deepen as two new characters are brought in – Dr. Anna Corvis who has an obvious interest Daniel while using her knowledge of the Maven project as bait, and Dr. Nick Miller who has a past with Lydia that she is unprepared to deal with.
Normally, these kinds of angst plots of old flames showing up or new pushy characters flaunting their drive to destroy the main characters’ relationship make me groan. When Huchton used them both at once, I had to bite my tongue. The way Huchton used these common plot devices, however, was as smart as her science fiction, and she mixed it with the time-strains already inflicting Lydia and Daniel. Facing these three complications on top of the ongoing Maven investigations resulted in realistic and believable reactions from both characters. Toss in the secret that comes to light about Lydia and I was applauding the angst.
Me, applauding angst. I do think a pig just flew by my window. Huchton masterfully crafted it in such a way that it worked without being annoying or over dramatic. I could understand where both Daniel and Lydia were coming from, and the angst became the honest ups and downs of a new relationship. Thank you, Huchton. Thank you.
Aside from Anna and Nick (love his character, by the way), a new addition to Daniel’s tech team is made. In my review of Maven, I mentioned that I was a bit miffed that the tech team was all male. In Nemesis, we get Brooke added to the team. She reminded me of a SYS Admin I used to work with, so it was a bit fun and I was glad for her addition.
The ending – it killed me and had me searching online for the release date of book 3. I have an idea of where Huchton is going to be headed with book 3 and Lydia’s character and I am dying to find out if I’m right.
The book is recommended for everyone who likes good, smart science fiction, a page-turning suspenseful plot and a believable, realistic relationship development between two people struggling to hold onto each other while pressure builds and presses in on them from all sides.