Monday, December 10, 2012

REVIEW: New Dawn: Deception / James M. Butler

TITLE: Deception (New Dawn)
AUTHOR: James M. Butler
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)

Recommended for fans of sweeping space epics

Science Fiction—Space Opera

New Dawn: Deceptiontakes place in a future so distant Earth has virtually become a myth. Humans have spread out across the galaxy and regularly mingle with alien civilizations.

Deception is  the first novel in a series and ends on a cliffhanger.

Deception dives right into the stakes from the very first chapter: the existence of humanity itself is in danger. Deception’s rich and extensive universe takes time to set up, and the novel alternates between faster-paced action sequences and slower-paced moments.

This book is written from various third person limited points of view.

Gennifer Altich stumbles upon a race of luminous beings after crashing on an uncharted planet. Mesmerized by their heavenly nature, she readily believes them when they tell her they’re humans who have evolved to a higher level of existence and agrees to do everything in her power to spread their gospel and get other humans to believe in them. Little does she know, these beings are in fact aliens who feed on the life force of organic creatures and who seek to use Gennifer to lure more victims.

New Dawn: Deception opens with extremely high stakes: billions of lives are at stake, and possibly the entire future of humanity. The story then takes the reader to different corners of this dangerous and mysterious universe, zooming in on the lives of certain individuals. The boxer who flees her home and finds herself captured by pirates. The admiral trying to save her space station from deterioration. The football player who stumbles upon a powerful alien stone. The rock musician who is shanghaied by interstellar crime organization. This is but a glimpse of the expansive universe New Dawn: Deception takes place in.

These seemingly disjointed stories eventually start weaving together, and we are introduced to a second threat to humanity: a race of sentient robots hell-bent on the destruction of organic life. New Dawn: Deception is the type of book that takes some patience to read because there are so many different plot lines and characters to keep track of. Although it takes a bit of effort to read, the payoff is a rewarding experience. Butler takes the reader across an expansive and richly detailed universe, the kind that can spark countless stories.

The title of this book, Deception, is also the main theme that runs throughout the novel. The first—and most major—deception is the alien trickery that occurs at the beginning. Gennifer, under the influence of psychic forces, becomes something of a proselytizing religious fanatic on behalf of the aliens, drawing more people into the lie. Meanwhile, in other parts of the galaxy, characters deceive each other left and right in order to achieve their goals, whether it’s to break a person down, save a high-stakes project, or simply to bargain for a better price. The nastiness and dangerous nature of Butler’s galaxy leaves little room for good guys. And yet, here and there, there are moments of goodness.

Because of the fragmented style of storytelling, there is no one main character. Some characters get more “screen time” than others, but New Dawn: Deception is fundamentally an ensemble show. After her dramatic opening, Gennifer is relegated to the background. Meanwhile, the kidnapped boxer, Maryse, takes center stage for several sections, even though she doesn’t seem directly involved with the main conflict.

Personally, my favorite part about New Dawn: Deception was the secondary conflict involving the sentient robots. Because of a past conflict between mechanical and organic beings, artificial intelligence is all but banned in this galaxy. Unknown to humanity, the robots have been evolving and plotting over the years. Their view of organic life as a threat is in sharp contrast to the perspective of the aliens, who view organic life as prey. The organic beings, meanwhile, aren’t making the best case for their existence, with all the terrible acts they commit.

New Dawn: Deception contains a vast array of speculative elements—starships, psychic forces, robots, aliens, criminals, militaries, shadowy organizations… There is far too much going on in this universe for one book. It is the first in a series, and the story ends on a cliffhanger. Fascinating and clever, it goes above and beyond the standards of its genre.

There are a teeny, tiny, barely perceptible handful of typos.
This book contains some violence and adult language. A horrific rape is implied but not described in described in detail.

[from the author’s Amazon page]

James M. Butler has traveled around the world. Part rock musician, part screenwriter (he's had a work optioned by Lion's Gate) and part novelist, James is perfectly at home with the written word.

James has tutored in many subjects, from Psychology to Geography. He prefers history and excels at the subject.

Originally from the swampy hell of south Florida, James has been called many things in his life, and cynical, sarcastic and sardonic are just three of them. He has also lived in various places around the world. Currently, James works as a care giver for the Developmentally Disabled at a group home somewhere in Ohio…

RELATED: An Interview with James Butler

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