The Betrayal of Ka by Shea R. Oliver
The Betrayal of Ka by Shea R. Oliver is a lot more than the Amazon blurb leads you to believe. It’s not just the story of a convicted child killer turned soldier seeking redemption. There’s also romance, politics, murder, and intrigue, three different planets and one very human family tangled up in it all. This book doesn’t fit neatly into one category; it’s an epic sci-fi with paranormal and thriller undertones. Because the blurb over-simplifies the plot, I read a completely different novel than what I had been expecting, and I’m still unsure how I feel about it.
I think it was the scope of the novel, all of the subplots and secondary characters the author included to bring all of these elements together that I found rather unnecessary. In addition to adding a bunch of characters that we didn’t really need to hear about (the General, being one of my least liked characters, as well as Tomar, whose subplot could have been trimmed down a lot), the author also wrote in third person omniscient. So not only are we jumping from story arc to story arc pretty much every chapter, we also jump character heads within those story arcs, and rather abruptly at that. The characters that we jump into aren’t even secondary characters; they appear a few times, make a few decisions to move the plot along, and more often than not, disappear after they’ve served their use. Those two elements made connecting with the characters and keeping the cast of them straight really hard.
Another problem with the scope of the novel and large cast of characters, is that I had a hard time connecting with or caring about any of them. There were so many, and a lot of them died off after serving their purpose, that the deaths lost their impact. I also thought the the humans in the subplot were set up to succeed every time and had an easy time of it, and the two teenaged brothers, Dylan and Bjorn, always seemed to do the right thing at the right time.
But the biggest problem with writing a novel with these many plots and subplots was the writing and plotting itself. A novel with all these subplots and elements could have easily been four or five hundred pages long. Instead, this book is just under three hundred. How? The author tells us pretty much everything. There’s no showing, no experiencing the scenes that way, and the storytelling is a bit lackluster because of it. Most of the story is predictable, though there are a few interesting twists near the end. Even the timeline is skewed. Years pass between subplots, and I had no idea unless the author stated it outright.
Additionally, I found misused words, awkwardly phrased sentences and a whole lot of back story that was either irrelevant, or too fleshed out when other aspects of the novel could have used the attention the author gave to planetary and character history.
This story has potential, but I think the author bit off a bit more than he could chew. He set the book up in a good place to for a sequel, but this novel needs a bit of work for my taste.
My Rating: 1.6/5
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