Ninth City Burning
Author: J. Patrick Black
Reviewers: Gikany and Una
Ninth City Burning is the debut novel of J. Patrick Black. This science fiction story was fascinating and easily visualized, if only Gikany and Una enjoyed reading it.
Truly, we loved the overall premise – a science fiction story about a post-apocalyptic Earth battling back an alien species in order to avoid extinction. The discovery of a new resource, Thelemity which most of us would describe as magic, is critical in the battle between these two factions. It is utterly engrossing. The novel begins with the assumption that we are winning, when in fact we discover, the hard way, we may be about to lose. We watch as Earth makes a desperate move in order to survive the approaching alien horde. Does this sound riveting? It was in a sense. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the overall world and the premise. We just didn’t like reading it.
An on-going preference of ours is that we prefer multiple points-of-view novels written in third person. (We apologize if this will sound awfully academic). In third person, it is easy to move from character to character, place to place while allowing the story to flow. However, this is a novel from seven different character’s perspectives, all written in first person. The story suffers from a lot of “stop and go.” Each chapter is title with the character that will be narrating. Now some consecutive chapters are from the same viewpoint, but not always. The story doesn’t flow well regardless of how gripping the premise. It was difficult in the beginning to orient to the world as we were in four different perspectives of the “current” world. There is no background or prequel summary, we just start in the middle of each of the character’s lives. It wasn’t until about 25% where several narrators encountered each other that we were able to fully comprehend the “what” and “where” of the story, including chronology. Though each character was unique and fascinating, we feel that not all of the points of views were necessary.
The mythology was completely fascinating and intriguing. The science involved with Thelemity – an element that we would think similar to magic — is utilized in technically advanced engineering. There is a pivotal moment near the end that questions the war. With the politics we encounter, it makes us wonder if it is true or if the enemy is trying to manipulate the character. Either way, we were completely intrigued. However, it is never brought up again. Since there is nothing provided as background, we have nothing to compare it to. We are left wondering. Not sure if this means this is the start of a series, but it provided us some interesting discussion. We can truly visualize this novel as a movie – it would be really good.
Though the plot and mythology of Ninth City Burning was compelling and riveting, we did not enjoy the execution of the novel. The multiple first person accounts gave the story a jumpy, disjointed feel. The world was deeply intriguing with the harnessing of Thelemity and interstellar war. If this is the start of a series, we are not sure if we will read the next one if it follows the same format.
Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut…
We never saw them coming.
Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.
Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.
But the enemy’s tactics are changing, and Earth’s defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Format(s): Hardcover (544 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley