“The Awakening of Artemis” by John Calia

This is a standard political action-adventure novel involving the usual different levels of the US administrative and military conglomerate, demonstrating the various ways ambitious individuals can screw up the system by inserting their own personal agendas. It’s been done before many times, so the author must attract our attention through interesting characters and a creative plot. This story does well on both counts.

Diana, the main character, is a great reluctant hero. She’s got the chops, but she doesn’t necessarily have the motivation, because other elements of her complex character get in the way. This creates all sorts of internal conflict, which in turn affects the interpersonal conflicts, the love story, and the main plotline.

While the action is going on, the other characters are back in the big city hatching their plots, which are so complicated that at times I couldn’t remember who was a good guy and who was not. Which, I suppose, is the idea. However, there were too many powerful, driven women who weren’t that different from each other, which made the story difficult to follow.

There is a good amount of well-described conflict, but this is definitely a book that leans towards female readers, with lengthy sections spent hashing through the interpersonal conflicts and their internal causes.

Tony Russo, the love interest in the book, is a breath of fresh air. A man of principle and action, he despises the manipulation and evil he sees around him but manages to maintain his sense of honour despite the muck that clings to everyone.

The setting is a believable but not intrusive deteriorating future America, with a goodly dollop of sci-fi security and armament technology integrated nicely so that those who don’t understand the acronyms can understand what is going on.

Given these strengths, the book should deserve a four-star rating. However, it also seems proofread but not edited. So no spelling mistakes, but the sentence structure is often long, convoluted, and erroneous enough to distract us and sometimes even interfere with our understanding of what is happening.

The second paragraph contains two examples of the “Going to the store, a deer crossed my path,” type of error.

And I know it is considered good writing to slip small background and setting details into action sentences in order to shorten exposition, but the technique can be taken to extremes. “A drone pilot, Captain Diana Gutierrez-Adams was about to fly her first combat mission when she was thrown across the room.” Four separate ideas in one sentence.

So, much though I enjoyed the book, I can only recommend it for people that don’t really care about the writing, as long as the characters are sympathetic and the plot is interesting.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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