Monday, September 4, 2017

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black - Book Review

From the publisher: For fans of Ender’s Game, Red Rising, and The Hunger Games comes an explosive, epic science fiction debut...

Cities vanished, gone in flashes of world-shattering destruction. An alien race had come to make Earth theirs, bringing a power so far beyond human technology it seemed like magic. It was nearly the end of the world—until we learned to seize the power, and use it to fight back. 

The war has raged for five centuries. For a cadet like Jax, one of the few who can harness the enemy’s universe-altering force, that means growing up in an elite military academy, training for battle at the front—and hoping he is ready. For Naomi, young nomad roaming the wilds of a ruined Earth, it means a daily fight for survival against the savage raiders who threaten her caravan.

When a new attack looms, these two fledging warriors find their paths suddenly intertwined. Together with a gifted but reckless military commander, a factory worker drafted as cannon fodder, a wild and beautiful gunfighter, and a brilliant scientist with nothing to lose—they must find a way to turn back the coming invasion, or see their home finally and completely destroyed.

I tried to read this book, I really did. Ninth City Burning, by J. Patrick Black, seemed to have a number of things that were in my reading wheelhouse. There were young adults learning about their abilities and fighting against a great evil force. There were alien invaders, a new world order, a post-apocalyptic setting with just enough of the old to be strangely familiar. There were even comparisons to Ender's Game and Harry Potter, both of which I really enjoyed. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to finish reading it. I spent several weeks pushing myself through it before I decided to take a break. And once I was on the break, I couldn't think of a reason to go back. Nothing drew me in to the story. Due to this, I gave up on what was a promising concept.

I'm not sure why Ninth City Burning didn't click for me, but I've thought of a few things that I struggled with. One, the back of the book mentioned two particular characters, Jax and Naomi. After appearing in the first couple of chapters, Jax disappeared from the book for more than 100 pages. Naomi was in it alot, but I wasn't particularly connected to her as a character. Each chapter focused on a particular character's point of view in the first person, which I'm fine with, but when you spend multiple chapters in a row with uninteresting characters, reading can become a slog. Also, there seemed to be a bunch of info dumps. This slowed the rhythm of the narrative more than it should have. And it was slow. As the various characters began to come together (there were more than just two point of view characters, several of who were more interesting than the two mentioned on the book jacket), the story took on more appeal. However, by this time I was tired of forcing myself to read and I wasn't willing to deal with any more dumps. After reading more than a third of the book, I just gave up. There are too many other books I'd like to give a try.

Overall, I would not recommend Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black. This doesn't mean someone else would not like it, but it didn't work for me.

I received a review copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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