Friday, October 31, 2014

Second Harvest

Matthew Hart
Capscovil, 2013 (my softcover copy was gracefully provided by Capscovil for review)
Size: Average (my copy has 366 pages)
Theme: Time travel
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Dexter Maxwell
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This is a sequel to “The last iteration of Dexter Maxwell”, and continues following the intriguing time-shifting (and now space-spanning) adventures of Dexter and his cohorts. This novel works perfectly as a sequel, since it fills in a lot of blanks that had been left in the first story, and adds to the complexity of the plot. In fact, even though the first novel already featured a detailed storyline, in the second book we find out much behind-the-scenes scheming that had only been hinted at. The role of the families in Venus, what the second harvest is (or is claimed to be), and where Ashion came from, are all finally revealed.

In this novel, Dexter struggles to control his shifting abilities as he attempts to fold Ashion’s plans and prevent doomsday for the entire population of Venus. The book is divided into 4 parts. The first exclusively follows Ashion in the year 3027, as he sets in motion several plans related to the upcoming second harvest. The second is focused on Dexter and his allies, and varies between events happening around the 26th century and those of the 31st century. The third occurs after Dexter goes to Venus, and interchangeably keeps track of both Dexter and Ashion. The fourth and final part concerns the events taking place during the week before the echo effect. There is a big momentum building up to the time of the echo effect, of which we learn much during the earlier parts of the book. In fact, everything essentially revolves around this phenomenon, which has driven the actions of Ashion and the families.

Although the entire book keeps a very nice pace, with events unfolding rhythmically, I did struggle with all the characters and names during the first part. Having read the first novel several months ago, I did not remember some details, and I felt that I was missing out on some subtle but pertinent aspects because of that. I think the author could have provided some hints on what was going on for readers who had either not read book 1 or did it some time ago. Because the families are almost absent from the first book, I felt it hard to keep up with the story at some turns in the first part. However, starting with part 2, that no longer was the case, and it was a very enjoyable read. Maybe I should have spent some time on the character list at the end of the book, but I prefer learning the characters from the plot itself. In any case, the story is compelling and very well written. Readers of the first novel will thrill through this sequel, and left eager for the third novel of the series.