“Naida” by Scott Overton

Many novels start out with two main characters and two separate plotlines and run them parallel to each other until they merge to create a more complex whole. “Naida” is one of the more extreme examples of this technique, and it doesn’t quite work.

The main story is about Michael, an ordinary guy who finds an extraterrestrial artifact while scuba diving in an Ontario lake. Against his better judgement he becomes involved in it, and soon finds himself asked to make a decision that could affect the future of all of mankind. This conflict is nicely handled. The steps by which he becomes involved, and the quandary in which he finds himself, all blend together in a realistic and gripping story.

The second half of the tale is less successful. It involves Sakiko, an oceanographer concerned with the salinization of the world’s oceans and the destruction of their coral reefs. She soon holds to the theory that this process is not proceeding at a natural pace, and her suspicions soon lead us to connect the two tales together.

The problem is with the author’s intent. All good authors have a theme they wish their readers to investigate, and use the superficial conflict and suspense of the story to draw their readers in so their ideals can be affected. In this novel, the author is far too involved in ecological issues, and Sakiko’s part is not half as interesting as Michael’s. Her conflict is mostly about raising funds for her research, and some shady practices she is required to use in order to achieve her goals. The rest of her story is full of technical jargon and rather preachy ecological information.

The result of this is that the story rushes happily through Michael’s sections, then slows to a tepid pace whenever Sakiko appears.

Once the two characters get together, the tale improves immensely and the action picks up, with their ship boarded at sea by authorities of a foreign country and a resourceful and powerful villain with realistic motivation.  From there it builds to a real action-adventure ending.

The Sci-Fi part of the story, from the point of view of the alien entity, is fascinating and well thought out. It adds credibility and emotional connection to Michael’s quandary.

The final wrap-up is a bit overconcerned with totipotent DNA cells, but by that time we’re willing to forgive.

A good read for all Sci-Fi fans, especially those who appreciate a modern-day realistic theme and scientific verification of fictional ideas.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.


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