Alex works in web design and graphics and has a wide range of interests including music, gaming, and science fiction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife.
But I'm not here to talk about Alex, I'm here today to review his upcoming book CassaFire. I was fortunate to have received a review copy of the book and now I'm going to tell you what I thought. But before I do here's what the book is about:
CassaStar was only the beginning…
The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.
The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren's civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan's technology and strange mental abilities.
To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves, the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…
I enjoyed Alex's first book CassaStar although I found it a bit too confined to the space stuff, which I guess is a somewhat silly statement since it was a space book. I couldn't totally relate to the galactic action. Also I thought too much time was spent in the preliminary training activities even though I will concede this is where most of the character development and story foundation was being set. Not so much a fault of the author, but mostly my own impatience as a reader.
Thank goodness in CassaFire Alex has brought most of the story down to Earth--or should I say the planet Tgren. I like having my feet on the ground and reading about things I can kind of relate to. The scenario is created well as we get to know the Tgrens and their customs as well as some of the lay of the land. Now that's more what I want to know about.
For the space fans there is still plenty of space action with various types of spacecraft from small to humongous. And there is still lots of flitting about with that cool mind jumping travel that we learned about in the first book. Then there is an epic space battle which seemed to come and go almost too quickly, but no big deal for me since we've seen that.
As in CassaStar, the real forte here is the interaction between the characters. We still have the training sequence where characters are developed, but this time it's done in a far more interesting manner and with more factors at play. Add in one hot Tgren babe who is Byron's match in skillsets then stir in some romantic tension and now we're talking story.
For the female readers who enjoyed the male bonding of CassaStar I think you'll like the new relationship far better. The theme in CassaFire still has to do with friendship and building trust, but this time there is more spark that creates a sizzle in the story line. Now I see where the CassaFire title comes into play.
Don't get me wrong. This is no soppy romance story, so you guys out there don't get nervous. There is still plenty of action and male bonding and even a bit of drinking and partying going on. Somehow this book just seemed fuller to me than the first one. What I think it has is more balance. It has an energy that kept me engaged and not scratching my head over silly questions like where's all the water come from on the spacecraft for the crew to take so many showers. This go around Alex just lets the story flow without bogging down too much with mundane things like showers. But don't get me started on that topic.
The main character of Byron has grown considerably from being a cocky upstart to a hardened experienced pilot no longer involved in combat, but now in a gritty occupation of transporting materials. He seems to be overly brooding and aloof, but that allows for further growth as the new story progresses. The other characters are all well drawn and the dialog comes across as very natural. We are not overwhelmed with character background, but given enough details for the story to make sense.
If I had one criticism it would be more directed to myself as a reader. Alex's writing is excellent. At times it seemed so good that it was distracting. My bad. Maybe I was trying too hard to find something wrong or some little mistake that I could harp on. Not there, nowhere to be found by me at least. All I could think was I wish I could write that well and it kind of annoyed me.
I don't think most readers will have that problem. Just read and enjoy. I think you will like this one a lot and be saying, "Bring on the next book!"
I'll rate this book 4.9999999.... Okay, so I have a hard time giving perfect scores. I guess according to Amazon ratings CassaFire will be a big 5.
Coming February 28, 2012
CassaFireby Alex J. CavanaughPrint ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5 EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure