Achilles, the first book in a planned trilogy, follows Jonah Lincoln, a first year cadet on board the Mayflower 2 on its way to Thetis, a planet in the Silver Foot Galaxy, accessible from Earth through a wormhole. After crash landing on one of Thetis’ moons, Achilles, Jonah and the other survivors start to try to come to grips with their situation. Suddenly all of the adults vanish, leaving the kids alone in a world they know almost nothing about, despite the 1,200 plus page report about Achilles provided to each of them during their 380 day spacecraft journey, which apparently almost none of them bothered to read.
The first half of this book was basically non-stop action. Things exploded, were ripped apart, were on fire. People lost arms, were impaled, sliced in half. We ran, we jumped, we climbed. Pretty much everywhere we went the body count rose. I really should have been keeping count but more than two thirds of the people we started with have been obliterated, exploded, sliced, diced or squished.
The body count rose so quickly without a great deal of character development so a lot of the deaths had me thinking, ‘Which one was that again?’ then moving on without being sure because there was bound to be another gruesome casualty right around the corner. The maiming and death scenes in this book were quite visceral. Greg Boose is certainly fond of blood, vomit and froth dripping from nostrils.
The only way you were getting any respite from the constant action in the first half was if you were unconscious or dead. Like the characters I just wanted to go and have a quick nap to get a small amount of respite from the mayhem. There were a couple of times where I was so caught up in the action that I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath, particularly around the time there was the threat of people being impaled on porcupine trees. Throughout this book, when you think their situation can’t get any worse, hold on, because it can and will.
The word that kept coming to me while I was reading the first half was cinematic. I could see the bloodshed and chaos unfolding around me like I was watching a movie. I was immersed in this strange world with its awesome gravity that allows you to leap over obstacles in a single bound and run with ten foot strides. The locations and the wildlife were described so well that Greg Boose seemed to implant a series of photographs in my imagination.
I liked Jonah as a character but I did get frustrated with him continually saying that his recruitment as a cadet was his opportunity to start over, which was almost immediately followed by him wanting to give up or thinking he should do something yet failing to and beating himself up for it. As an orphan who grew up in a series of abusive foster homes, Jonah is a survivor and as he desperately wanted to make a new life for himself I expected a dogged determination and stubbornness from him that didn’t really shine through.
Around the halfway mark we met Tunick who from the get go reminded me of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. I felt like I was suffering the effects of a hallucinogen whenever he was flitting around. He was hyper, he was all over the place emotionally, he was unpredictable and the things that came out of his mouth made a fairly limited amount of sense. He was the town weirdo and yes, I did enjoy hanging out with him although I’m glad I was able to do so at a safe distance.
As I’ve mentioned before, the lack of character development was an issue for me. We learned bits and pieces about some of the people but not enough for me to form attachments to them or to consistently distinguish which person had just been killed off. When I got to the big reveal of who someone was near the end of the book I actually had to ask myself who they were. I recognised the name but didn’t know which kid it was.
Then there was a description of how this person acted just after the crash and I was like, “Oh!”. Then, “Hold on. I need more information. Is he the one that …?” I proceed to search that person’s name on my Kindle and it turned out it was the one that … but I think that was just a lucky guess. My Kindle name search also revealed something else about that person and I honestly thought that fact related to a different person. That sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to me.
The final quarter frustrated me no end. I get that there needs to be a set up for the second book but the storyline lost my interest. Without the vivid descriptions of new locations to hold on to I was annoyed with a lot of the characters and had some ‘Seriously???’ moments.
I have some unanswered questions and frustrations that are bugging me now that I’ve finished reading. I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy but I expect by the time the next book comes out I will probably have either forgotten about them completely or they won’t be burning questions anymore.
I may have missed it but I don’t remember there being an explanation for how the kids knew which symbols to press and in what order on the wall when they were in the cave. I know there were academics who probably figured out a pattern or something but Jonah also knew what to do intuitively and he wasn’t an academic.
Not completely separate from the above, who created the portals? How? Why? Is there a codex somewhere that explains what each symbol means, what order you need to press them in to wake them up and what each symbol combination does?
Why wasn’t Jonah as greatly affected by the verve as the other kids?
When Jonah is being guided by the thin white line, it that a side effect of the verve or a side effect of his blood disease?
Is the blood disease a real thing or is there something else about Jonah and Brooklyn that causes their eye issues?
As Jonah himself even wonders, what was so special about him that got him recruited? Is it something related to the eye thing?
Why is he now the chosen one and what’s the deal with those stupid seeds?
Who or what is Zion?
Different kids keep trying to tell Jonah why Thetis is such a bad place. Just once, would he please let them finish their story?!
In summary, the descriptions of location, animals, plants, blood and guts, all awesome. The character development, not so awesome. My rating is difficult so I’ll break it down for you:
- First half of the book with all the cool descriptions and the movie playing in my mind – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Third quarter with Johnny Depp 2.0 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Final act with question marks and frustration levels peaking – ⭐️⭐️
- Overall rating – as there are so many academics in this book I’m doing this mathematically. If my maths skills haven’t failed me, the average across the board is 3.75, so I’m rounding up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Diversion Books for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
The year is 2221, and humans have colonized an earthlike planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills off dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis’s leaders are desperate to repopulate. So the Mayflower 2, a state-of-the-art spaceship, sets off across the universe to bring 177 new recruits to the colony.
For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who’s bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the voyage is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded – not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpeopled moon, Achilles.
Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is far from an ideal resting place. The situation is already dire, but when all of the adults suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they’ll survive at all, much less reach Thetis. Especially when it appears Achilles isn’t as uninhabited as they were led to believe.