Sunday, October 3, 2021

Review: The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes

by J.S. Dewes
Release Date: April 20, 2021
2021 Tor Books
Kindle Edition; 480 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250236340
Audiobook: B087K117GT
Genre: Fiction / Science-Fiction / Space Opera
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

The Divide.

It’s the edge of the universe.

Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it.

The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels—the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military.

At the Divide, Adequin Rake, commanding the Argus, has no resources, no comms—nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted.

They're humanity's only chance.
My Thoughts
The Last Watch is one of those books that caught me completely by surprise, but in a good way.  After that opening scene, I really didn't know what to expect, but I guess I was in the mood for a space opera as I really enjoyed this book and the characters.  While the initial part of the book felt a bit slow, it certainly picked up the pace and kept me entertained, and guessing, for the remainder of the book. 
Cavalon and Rake are the main characters in the book, and couldn't be more polar opposites.  Cavalon's attitude certainly set up the tone of the book as he was rebellious and cynical right from the beginning so you knew something was definitely up.  And, I have to admit, the first line of the book certainly sets up Cavalon's story arc perfectly as you will see when you read it.  Rake is as different from Cavalon as a human could possible be, but the two of them worked well together and their personalities meshed well together. The author uses these two characters to help develop the world-building, and it's often done through dialogue and interactions with others which can be a bit difficult at times.  Rake is the leader of this motley crew and does not tolerate disobedience, disrespect, or rebellious actions that can compromise the others on the ship.  At the same time, she also demonstrates compassion and a high level of intelligence.  She has an ability to read people and figure out what they need; however, she is not very good at seeing to her own needs and is often over-worked and tired.  
The secondary characters were a lot of fun as well, and I particularly enjoyed Griffith and Mesa, a savant.  To be honest, most of the characters were very well developed, and I think the author put a lot of thought into her characters and how she wanted them portrayed.  
I enjoyed the plot, and there were plenty of twists and turns.  In this one, you've got an old ship out in nowhere, and I mean nowhere, with old technology that is falling apart, and a bunch of soldiers, called Sentinels, who have somehow screwed up in their jobs, fighting against something called The Divide.  You know very little about the world at the beginning and slowly develop an understanding of the politics as the story develops, but I will admit, I still don't have a clear picture as to what is happening.  I am okay with that however as I feel I am learning with Cavalon and Rake as they piece together their two stories to try and figure out what is going on.  Rake is a bit of an idealist and I enjoyed watching her come to terms with what was happening as her illusions about her world started to crumble and she realizes she is going to have to rely on herself and those around her to solve what is happening.  I can't state it any better than that without giving away spoilers, but I found it fascinating.  One of the things I also found fascinating about this book was the use of something called imprints; they are tattoo-like characters that can change and protect the wearer, and they are different for everyone.  
The Last Watch definitely has a lot to recommend it; a group of ex-soldier criminals with the main character sticking out like a sore thumb, the end of the universe, politics, aliens, genetic modification, time disruptions, and so on.  It can be confusing as the world-building is explained through the characters and the story line so a lot of it is not yet clear, like the mention of previous wars and how the ex-soldiers actually ended up on the ship.  I definitely enjoyed the book, and recommend it to anyone interested in space opera.  I will be diving into book 2, The Exiled Fleet, shortly.