Saturday, 23 June 2012
Crossing The Line (The Wess'har Wars Book 2) - Karen Traviss
Title: Crossing The Line (The Wess'har Wars Book 2)
Author: Karen Traviss
"Crossing The Line" by Karen Traviss is the sequel to "City of Pearl" that I previously reviewed here as part of a Women of Sci-Fi book club. As this is a sequel I will warn anyone reading this review that there are some mild spoilers in relation to "City of Pearl" so please make sure that this doesn't bother you.
The novel follows the continuing adventure of Shan Frankland, a former police officer who has been infected with an alien organism that manipulates her DNA to the point that it is almost impossible to kill her. With the Earth's military now after her due to this infection, she has been forced to take refuge amongst an alien race known as the Wess'har. However the military can not let this stand and their meddling pushes the region into instability, increasing the tensions between the various alien species and risking the threat of war between humanity and the Wess'har.
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while to see where the story would progress from the rather enjoyable cliff hanger of a conclusion seen in "City of Pearl". Therefore it was with a high level of expectation that I had put this novel on my kindle and settled down to read. I was happy to find that it exceeded these expectations and I found it even more enjoyable than "City of Pearl". Whilst I felt that the previous novel could get bogged down in its almost obsessive pushing of the vegan diet and the flaws of humanity etc. I found that this novel toned down these elements and concentrated more on developing the universe, aliens and characters themselves in a vivid and enjoyable manner.
I specifically loved the way in which Traviss has continued to build up and developed the relationships between humanity and the various alien species. There is no glorious flawless species portrayed in this novel, our flaws and some of our strengths conspire against us as we try to interact with species and cultures that are completely different to our own. At the same point however we also get to see the interaction between different individuals that showcased how we could work well with another species. I really enjoyed the exploration of these different levels of interaction and how the choices and actions of an individual can be so different to the way in which a species as a whole grouping would act.
All of this increased development did make the novel a little wordy in areas but I still found that the story moved a decent pace and kept me entertained throughout. Traviss builds up the tension masterfully until the reader is rewarded with a rather surprising but enjoyable climax and a rather intriguing cliff-hanger.
Overall "Crossing The Line" is a superb sequel that builds wonderfully on the previous novel and really develops the characters into people that I am able to find some real affinity for. Traviss does continue the overall portrayal of humanity as bad guys in the novel but this has been toned down a lot which makes it a lot easier to appreciate. Whilst you can probably follow this novel without reading the prequel as it provides all the information needed in the first few chapters, I still think this book will only really be appreciated if you have actually read "City of Pearl".