“The Final Exam,” The Society Agent Series by Shaun J. McLaughlin.

This is a review of “Final Exam,” the first in a new series of very brief novels (under 50 pages) of light Science Fiction adventure. Thus it is also a review of the whole series, or at least the first four books, which I found easy to read in the time I usually allot for a whole novel.

Because of the brevity of each tale, a certain amount of simplicity in plot and conflict is necessary. In this relatively new type of book (sort of a novella with the length and plotline of a graphic novel) depth of character is restricted to a few strong traits, especially in the supporting characters. In this case, the reader is pleased to find that personalities can still be individualistic, sometimes even quirky, which adds to the interest. The hunky main character’s complete inability to talk to a beautiful woman comes immediately to mind.

Plotlines are direct; action is swift paced. The required amount of sexual tension exists between the main characters, but not enough activity ensues to restrict the series from younger readers.

The overall situation in this series involves a secret agency charged with protecting the rights of indigenous intelligence in the face of the human race, which is expanding rapidly through the galaxy (Shades of 19th century colonialism). The usual pattern is that fledgling agent Shane O’Ryan is sent to a planet where nefarious commercial interests are suppressing evidence of the intelligence of a local species in order to exploit their resources. A future challenge for the author will be to create enough variety of plotline within the rather narrow scope of this established conflict.

I am giving this series five stars, not because it is wonderful literature, but because it is a perfect example of what it purports to be: simple, short, mildly humorous fiction. Recommended for those looking for light entertainment. Ideal holiday or travel reading.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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