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I love science fiction, but this book turned out to be a fantasy story rather than science fiction. Mentioning space travel does not science fiction make. There are no other science based elements, soft or hard core, in the story.
Crystals and mystics and alien races with supernatural powers are the realm of fantasy and I would rather classify it as such.
The story is rather thin on the ground in the action scenes. Very little details on what happens and the reader is left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Whether the battles are won or lost, it wasn't possible to get into the action when it was underway. Only the mystics' reactions to the crystals were explored.
I liked Vahika. The priestess was no pushover, and the subtle undercurrent of attraction between her and Morden felt realistic in the scenes where they interacted with each other.
I also liked the way Sorred, one of Morden's team members, was portrayed. He had a temper. It made him real.
The character that impressed me the least was Morden himself. It was a surprise that his characterisation as the main character was not as one would expect of the leader of a group of soldiers. It took a few chapters to realise that Morden had no flaws. He had issues, but he was portrayed as a perfect character.
He was the hero. He liked children; they liked him. He was considerate towards his team members - rather foregoing sleep than bother theirs by snoring. He didn't even swear or get angry. Explicit text is not required to understand a character's internal dialogue.
It was difficult to relate to him. He was just too likable, too nice, and nothing made me root for him. He had no inner conflicts to resolve, and the battles themselves were too vague to really grip my attention.
When one of the group was killed during a battle, there were no emotional reactions from any of the main characters. Even experienced soldiers would have had some reaction to the event, whether they liked the victim or not.
Internal and external tension was lacking throughout the entire book.
Their so-called rogue mission didn't create too many sparks either. It was listed as the primary conflict in the synopsis and yet there was little to draw the reader's emotions. Their boss accepted their decision, and the anticipated fall out didn't realise with the expected level of conflict.
The story was easy to read, but I find it difficult to recommend it, even to readers of YA fantasy books.