Author: J. Patrick Black
Publisher/Publication Date: Ace; September 6, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
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...
I’m pleased to say that Ninth City Burning is not all bad. In fact, it was a pretty good story. I think Black has started something that has the potential to become very interesting. I had some hiccups in my reading experience, but the ending was definitely worth sticking around for. Plus, the characters eventually grew on me.
Ninth City Burning is basically about a war that’s stretched on for the better part of 500 hundred years, which is an extremely long time for something like that. It makes use of the classic trope of an unknown alien race vs Earth in an all-out conflict. I can only describe the situation at the beginning of the book as a stalemate. Each side has relied on the same tactics, and is seemingly comfortable with their current fortification and standing in the conflict. For a good chunk of the book, nothing seemed to change except for some hints of trouble. And then it did.
The first half of the book was like a construction zone—messy, unfinished, a work in progress. It was dedicated to setting up the world, introducing the characters, and establishing the rules—or lack thereof—as far as thelemity was concerned. As such, there were long expositions of just information. Yes, I understand that the characters had a lot to learn, but for me, those moments slowed down the pace of the story. It was tough to get through, and at some points, I found myself almost losing interest entirely. It wasn’t until the latter half of Ninth City Burning where I really felt interested in continuing. Once the main conflict was established, the story got progressively better, especially the ending. The ending was a very good finish—one of the redeeming qualities of Ninth City Burning.
My favorite part was the central cast of characters. There were a lot of perspectives, and a lot of background involved with setting up their respective situations. Just past the middle of the book—at last—it all seemed to come together. All that information had a place to be. That was fine. A definite highlight was how the relationships between the characters eventually developed into friendships, with hints at other possibilities.
So, while the beginning of Ninth City Burning was shaky, the second half was much better. The ending left a lot of questions more than it gave any answers. So, I would be interested in seeing what comes next for the characters, and how the current story will progress after all that happened in Ninth City Burning.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the Author...
J. Patrick Black has worked as a bartender, a lifeguard, a small-town lawyer, a homebuilder, and a costumed theme park character, all while living a secret double life as a fiction writer. While fiction is now a profession, he still finds occasion to ply his other trades as well. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he likes to visit the ocean. NINTH CITY BURNING is his first (published) novel. He is at work on his next book...