Review of The Ruins of Mars, by Dylan James Quarles

Ruins of MarsI snagged a free copy of Dylan James QuarlesThe ruins of Mars from the Amazon free list.

Descripton from Goodreads:
Set against the turbulent backdrop of the near future, The Ruins of Mars opens on the discovery of an ancient city buried under the sands of the red planet. Images captured by twin sentient satellites show massive domes, imposing walls, and a grid work of buildings situated directly on the rim of Mars’ Grand Canyon, the Valles Marineris. With the resources of Earth draining away under the weight of human expansion, a plan is hatched to reclaim Mars from the cold grasp of death. A small band of explorers, astronauts, and scientists are sent to the red world in mankind’s first interplanetary starship to begin construction on a human colony. Among them is a young archaeologist, named Harrison Raheem Assad, who is tasked with uncovering the secrets of the Martian ruins and their relation to the human race. Aided by the nearly boundless mind of a god-like artificial intelligence; the explorers battle space travel, harsh Martian weather, and the deepening mystery of the forgotten alien civilization.

I’m a bit torn on how I feel about this book.  It’s obvious that the author put a lot of thought into how the mission should be run. But the pages and pages and pages dedicated to ship specifications, food processing, genetic alterations, AI design and development, etc is, honestly, dull.

The crew doesn’t reach Mars until the start of part three, 60% in. And almost all of the previous 60% is dedicated to pseudo-science lectures and crew soap-opera relationships (not so much romance, but who shacks up for the four month journey through space). Very, very little is about the alien race or the amazing discovery that Mars had been populated. And even then, after reaching Mars, due to circumstance, nothing happens to progress the plot until about 90%.

Viewed as the first 200ish pages in a series that looks to break 1,000 pages, I suppose it’s pretty good. Certainly, an interesting plot is set up, all that techno-babble might become important to know eventually. But as a single book, read alone…the honest, unvarnished truth is that I was bored.

What the book feels like, despite being 200+ pages long, is an extended prologue. The characters are introduced, the plot established, the mystery outlined and then it ends on a cliffhanger just when thing are set to finally get moving. Frustrating to say the least.

I found the dialogue stiff, partly because there are multiple nationalities speaking second (third, fourth…tenth) languages and AIs. I understand that, but it’s still stiff. The single sex scene was very purple. However, beyond these two complaints the writing was very good and I only noticed a few editing mistakes.

So, while I didn’t hate it, wouldn’t be opposed to finishing the series at some point, I didn’t fall in love either.

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