Monday, July 3, 2023

Review: Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton

by Edward Ashton
Release Date: March 14, 2023
2023 St. Martin's Press
Kindle & Audiobook Editions; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250275059
ASIN: B09Y45J7S1
Audiobook: B09YG3V8BR
Genre: Fiction / Science-Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive―that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. 
My Thoughts
Antimatter Blues is the second book in the Mickey7 series and features an expendable human. The concept is pretty unique, and it meant that Mickey's job was to do the ones that would likely kill you as his consciousness and memories would be regenerated into a new body if he is killed.  The previous book dealt with him getting his independence, so I was curious as to how he was doing in this sequel. I loved the fact that they were now in what is their version of summer, enjoying the fresh air, figuring out how they were going to survive the next winter cycle when Mickey learns they are running out of energy and he needs to recover the antimatter bomb he has secreted away with the Creepers. 

I don' really feel like there was a lot of character development in this book, but I was so focused on the first contact business that it didn't really matter.  Mickey had contact the Creepers and open communication with them if he was to be successful and I found this part fascinating. I feel like a lot of books make contact look so easy, but the author made Mickey struggle with understanding and communication was a challenge with the Creepers, something I enjoyed.  It also made their lives difficult and put them in dangerous situations due to misunderstandings, something to which I could relate. With differing customs and ways of doing things, this is exactly how it should be.  

Now, with all of that being said, Mickey is ...a bit of an a**hole.  He can be snarky and doesn't really think through his actions before doing them, often putting himself and others in danger.  It actually makes for some interesting dynamics between himself and his friends, and he definitely doesn't endear himself to the rest of the crew.  To have Mickey play diplomat to the Creepers would have given Commander Marshall nightmares, but there was no one else to do it so you can imagine some of the things that happened in this book because of Mickey's recklessness.  

The plot itself began rather slowly and I was worried it would continue in that vein. Luckily, it picked up about one-third into the book and never let go, and I really enjoyed the creepers and learning a bit about their really fascinating culture. And then we learn there is another group of aliens on the planet, so it just ramps up even more and I loved it, the dynamics.  A lot of this was only touched upon in the first book, so I was happy to learn more in this book.  However, it did not disguise the fact that the plot was pretty basic and simple; this is not a bad thing as I think plots can be too convoluted and sometimes a more simplistic narrative is the way to go as it allows the author to focus on other things, such as the Mickey's meetings with the alien species and its consequences.  

Antimatter Blues was a worthy sequel to Mickey7. A light action-filled read, it focused on the Creepers and developing relationships with the species with whom they were sharing this new world. I did feel like the book got a bit repetitive and didn't think it was necessary to include so much from the first book which means that I do think you should read them in order simply to get a deeper understanding of Mickey and some of the relationships.  And while I enjoyed the action and contact with the Creepers as well as learning about their cultures, the story line was simplistic and there wasn't a lot of character development.  I do recommend this series to anyone looking for a lighter, fast-paced read, especially with the Mickey7 movie due to be released.