Saturday, 7 February 2015

Book Review - The Forever Watch by David Ramirez

An incredibly detailed and layered science fiction thriller, The Forever Watch is unfortunately let down by its execution and pacing. 

Blurb - 

All that remains of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new home aboard one ship, the Noah. Unfortunately this ship is also carrying a dangerous serial killer 

All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new planet aboard one ship, The Noah, which is also carrying a dangerous serial killer...

As a City Planner on the Noah, Hana Dempsey is a gifted psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat and is considered "mission critical." She is non-replaceable, important, essential, but after serving her mandatory Breeding Duty, the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, her life loses purpose as she privately mourns the child she will never be permitted to know.

When Policeman Leonard Barrens enlists her and her hacking skills in the unofficial investigation of his mentor's violent death, Dempsey finds herself increasingly captivated by both the case and Barrens himself. According to Information Security, the missing man has simply "Retired," nothing unusual. Together they follow the trail left by the mutilated remains. Their investigation takes them through lost dataspaces and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a serial killer after all.

What they do with that answer will determine the fate of all humanity.

Review - 

I was excited to read The Forever Watch. The blurb sounded amazing, and I was looking forward to experiencing a roller coaster ride of science fiction thrills and spills. A serial killer on the hunt... on a world ship with the remnants of humanity... sign me up and take my money. Unfortunately, it just never really reached the heights I thought it would. 

There were many good things to like about The Forever Watch. The world building was simply amazing, with technological elements like implants, and the generational ship Noah, working brilliantly alongside the more dystopian themes like mandatory breeding and a regimented social hierarchy. Ramirez in fact does a wonderful job in building, explaining, and exploring the world he has created in The Forever Watch. I especially adored the psychics and their various roles aboard the Noah, and I was enthralled by their backgrounds and origins. Hana Dempsey and Leonard Barrens were also both fascinating and interesting protagonists with a layered greyness and sterility that I loved. Ultimately however, I felt they were let down by the novel's pacing. 

The Forever Watch starts out at a slow speed, picks up intermittently, and then slows down again. And I hate to say it, but I found getting to the end a struggle during those slow periods. The characters and the plot development were really overwhelmed by the detail Ramirez poured into this world. Unfortunately this was a real shame for me, because the Forever Watch could have been such a wonderful story if the balance between the detail, plot, and pacing had been more equal. 

All in all this novel scores points for its stunning world building and innovation, but is ultimately let down by its denseness and slow pace at times. The good moments were mind blowing and crazy, but they were too few and far between. I was left feeling that The Forever Watch could have been so much more. I think some readers will absolutely adore this book, but in the end it wasn't for me. 

3 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was provided.

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