My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Ghost Mine ***
Pretty much a basic story with standard tropes similar enough to aliens 2 (just swap mutants for xenomorphs with a few techie references) that there were few surprises. After a very slow start with cookie cutter spacer roughnecks talking smack, the back half of the story is just a long run for your life horror parody with a body count in the top right corner (a la Hot Shots! Part Deux) … complete with macabre details that were so gratuitous as to be humorously entertaining (YMMV). There wasn’t much world building and a complete absence of character development, so the plot is basically just a simple thrill ride with a few easily missed twists toward the end (and a rather corny conclusion). Over all, there was nothing too terrible, but also there was nothing particularly unique or interesting, so with a pretty solid narration, you get just enough that you could easily have it playing in the background … tuning in now and again to check on where you are in the fairly predicable plot.
The Ghost Pact **
After surviving the disaster of the “Ghost Mine,” Justin moves on to mining asteroids instead of planetary shaft mines … only he takes with him a shiny new prosthetic arm and the ghost of his best friend (Keontae). Before long, the scenery changes to a colony ship where Justin continues to show off his ability to find trouble anywhere. As with the previous book, the world building is pretty limited (basically a modern western world view grafted onto a very simple sci-fi space adventure). Unfortunately. we get a slow build-up while the story takes a promenade through Triad territory in the space station/ark for several chapters before we get even a glimmer of plot. I am sure there was a point to that little segue, I just can’t figure out what it was … but at least now we have a direction (and something of a mystery). And that is when the Corporate Big Bad shows up with an absolutely unbelievable lack of any accountability to anybody with a new and very deadly “asset” that starts the inevitable run for your life stage of the story. Over all it is a simple story with stereotypes and tropes stitched together with a touch of deus ex machina that requires a boat load of suspending disbelief that makes it difficult to connect with anything (characters or world). However, if you can just let it all go and roll with it, you do get some solid entertainment that would give the A Team a run for the money.
The Ghost Plague *
Coming into the final stretch, this is only nominally book three of the trilogy, picking up the story right where the last book ended with all the same characters and bad guys and the same run for your life plot line with nothing in particular resolved from book 2 … just an added hazard of a self-inflicted tech plague turning humans into zombies lurking in the background … and we have officially entered into competition with superhero comic books, complete with its own giant, blue super soldier villain aka Vesh (I’m being literal). Queue the Space Ninjas (seriously … they’re in there). Unfortunately this style is not one of my favored genres, so the entertainment value started to bleed out here as the sophomoric bluff and bluster characteristic of the nearly all of the character dialogue started to grind on the nerves. There are a few surprises with shifting alliances that don’t really add much to the over all story. Overall it was an exhausting wild ride for Mr Toad and I was happy when it was over.
I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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