Thursday, July 09, 2015

Review: The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher

The Machine Awakes
Author:  Adam Christopher
Series:  Spider Wars 2
Publisher:  Tor Books April 21, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
List Price:  $25.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765376404 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Adam Christopher's The Machine Awakes is a far future space opera set in the universe of Burning Dark. In the decades since the human race first made contact with the Spiders—a machine race capable of tearing planets apart—the two groups have fought over interstellar territory. But the war has not been going well for humankind, and with the failure of the Fleet Admiral’s secret plan in the Shadow system, the commander is overthrown by a group of hardliners determined to get the war back on track.

When the deposed Fleet Admiral is assassinated, Special Agent Von Kodiak suspects the new guard is eliminating the old. But when the Admiral’s replacement is likewise murdered, all bets are off as Kodiak discovers the prime suspect is one of the Fleet’s own, a psi-marine and decorated hero—a hero killed in action, months ago, at the same time his twin sister vanished from the Fleet Academy, where she was training to join her brother on the front.

As Kodiak investigates, he uncovers a conspiracy that stretches from the slums of Salt City to the floating gas mines of Jupiter. There, deep in the roiling clouds of the planet, the Jovian Mining Corporation is hiding something, a secret that will tear the Fleet apart and that the Morning Star, a group of militarized pilgrims searching for their lost god, is determined to uncover.

But there is something else hiding in Jovian system. Something insidious and intelligent, machine-like and hungry.

The Spiders are near.

Brannigan's Review

The Machine Awakes is a dark space opera by Adam Christopher and the second book in the Spider Wars series. This book takes an interesting turn as it doesn't really have anything to do with the events and characters from the first book. They're mentioned, but a reader would do fine jumping on board with this second book without missing a beat. I like this in a world building standpoint. It gives the universe a bigger feel. It helps that this book covers more locations than the first book. I also like this because I sometimes get bored with one main hero that seems to have so many amazing adventures, it's just so unrealistic. It's refreshing to meet new people and see new places.

For the most part, Christopher does a better job with his characters in this book than the first. They are more interesting and feel more developed. However, he could have made better use out of Caitlin, a capable character who doesn't need to be a constant victim. The psi-marines are very cool and I look forward to learning more about them. I also have to give him credit for making a very cool villain that he hasn't overused throughout the series.

One aspect of the first book that I missed in this one is the fear factor. I felt Christopher did such a great job with that and in the second book there is more of a sci-fi cop/conspiracy tone that I was fine with but didn't love as much as the horror in the first book. I also didn't care for the weird religious aspect of the story, but I rarely enjoy that part of books as I feel most authors make religious people sound crazy.

The Machine Awakes is a world-builder's dream. Christopher's universe keeps getting bigger, and I'm interested to see where he goes in book three. I would only recommend this book to adults because of its strong language, violence and adult situations. This series is perfect for those of us who like to see a whole universe come alive with an interesting villain who wants to destroy it all.


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