Pandora's Star is the book where Peter F. Hamilton first introduces readers to the human Commonwealth. It is the year 2380 and humanity has populated several hundred worlds across hundreds of light years, all due to wormhole technology. That is when a single astronomer observes something unexplainable about 1000 light years from Earth - two stars just disappear when they become simultaneously enclosed by some kind of structure. This sparks all kinds of debate within the Commonwealth as whoever did this must have technology far superior to humanity and could pose a serious threat to the Commonwealth despite the distance. What to do about it? Sit back and do nothing hoping to avoid detection by these superior aliens or attempt to find a way to traverse the massive distance to take a closer look? Neither option is a great one and the Commonwealth's ultimate decision makes up the core of this interesting story.
This time around Edward W. Robertson moves his story arc forward right from the start but he does it by mixing the old with the new as Walt returns to being a main character. There are two main story lines once again with Walt, who we know from Breakers, as the central figure of one and Raina, who was just a child when human civilization fell, as the central character of the other. Right from the start these two story lines offer different perspectives on the state of the Los Angeles basin as human factions vie for control of the area. If you haven't started the series and want to avoid any spoilers that reveal plot points from the prior books then you should stop reading now but know that this book is probably the best of the Breakers series to date because the story arc is finally moving forward, although things don't appear to going well for anyone.
I expected book 2 of this series to pick up where things left off at the end of book 1, Breakers, but to my surprise that is not the case. Instead, Edward W. Robertson decides to start this book in the exact same place that he started the last one - prior to the pending double apocalypse. He also once again chooses to focus on two different sets of characters as they navigate the treacherous waters ahead of them when disaster strikes. This time around both sets of characters are siblings but they start from different socio-economic classes and thus very different circumstances. Ness and Sean are brothers that live with their mother in a trailer in Idaho, which is one of the many ground zero locations for the upcoming outbreak, while Tristan and Alden live with their wealthy parents in Redding, California. Their worlds may start out quite different but the end of civilization as we know it will cause them all to wind up in a very similar place.
Two different couples, one on each coast of the United States, struggle with the typical challenges of modern life. In New York, Walt is happy in his relationship with Vanessa, but he knows that she is planning to dump him because he found a goodbye note when rummaging through her dresser. He is pretty sure that she is cheating on him with one of her fellow actors and he starts scheming ways to keep the relationship going just a bit longer. On the west coast, Raymond and Mia are madly in love but are flat broke and about to lose their home. Raymond is a screw up who can't seem to keep a job and things go from bad to worse as he loses the last of his savings when he tries to make a quick buck. All of these challenges are about to become meaningless as the outbreak from the Outcome novella hits and the world is changed forever.
Ellie Colson has analyzed the data and sees what should be obvious to all of her colleagues - this is no ordinary flu. The rate of infection is scary high and the survival rate is negligible which means this new virus is like nothing we have ever seen before. Her bosses believe the disease will burn itself out quickly because so few survive the infection but Ellie is not convinced. She decides to commit career suicide, and possibly real suicide as well, by walking out on her job and boarding a plane to New York City. She wants to warn her ex-fiance, Chip, and get him to a safe place before it is too late but it is a race against the clock that she is not likely to win.
There are a number of favored locations often involved in contemporary science fiction that involves aliens visiting planet earth. Two such favored locations, Area 51 and Tunguska, Russia are both involved in this stand alone sci-fi tale that comes from prolific story teller B. V. Larson. With one location being in Russia and the other in the US, these two cold war rivals once again find themselves in a high profile race, but this time they are trying to be the first to get their hands on advanced alien technology. Despite this being a frantic race between rivals, this book actually starts out rather slowly with a vast array of characters being involved in a series of seemingly unconnected events; however, Larson eventually weaves all of the various threads together. It is when the characters come together and begin to interact that the story really takes off and eventually finishes on a high note that leaves you wanting more.
Jay Posey once again decides to add new characters to the mix for Dawnbreaker and this time it really helps return the series to form. The new characters fill the void left by Three and they make Wren's storyline immensely more interesting. Wren's fate has been mostly dictated by others throughout the first two books and now he finally decides to take matters into his own hands. Cass and many of the other characters from the first two books are also back on center stage as the series picks back up and is once again running on all cylinders.
Morningside Fall, Book 2 of the Legends of the Duskwalker series, is like the second book of many other trilogies. It acts as a bridge from the first book to the last and resolves little on its own. In this case Jay Posey also chooses not to do much world building, which was also lacking in the first book, and instead chooses to introduce a bunch of new characters to the storyline. Most of these new characters have military training which results in there being a lot of tactical squad based combat throughout which makes this book feel more like a military Sci-Fi novel than anything else. Although these characters all start out with rather similar military-esque personalities, they do eventually differentiate themselves and grow on you thus rightfully earning their place in the story.
A lone wolf bounty hunter roams a bleak post apocalyptic landscape where scraps of humanity barely hang on and survive. There isn't anything all too unique about that premise, but this book manages to quickly set the scene and grab your attention with it. Without ever revealing anything about why the world has gone to hell, Jay Posey thrusts you right into the story at the start which very much reminded me of the feeling that you get when you start a new video game. There is little up front world building, things just are the way they are, and you better figure things out quickly if you want to survive. The book starts just that way when Three, a bounty hunter, finds himself inexplicably drawn to help a woman and her young son who are clearly in a bad way. The woman, Cass, is a drug addict who lacks the money for her next fix, and along with her son, finds herself on the run from some really bad people. Three's sixth sense warns him that helping these two will be the decision that leads to his death but he does it anyway, and thus starts a gritty and compelling journey across a futuristic wasteland.
The Silo Saga enters its final book set up for success. Wool painted a picture of a bleak future where a dystopian underground society is all that manages to keep humanity on the right side of extinction. Shift then revealed who was behind the building of the silos and their published plan for delivering mankind to a better future; however, it also exposed that the official plan intentionally leaves out that a key decision will eventually made about who will and won't survive. All of this makes for excellent backdrop as the characters from both books converge to determine the ultimate fate of mankind.