THIS ARC WAS PROVIDED by Orbit Books via NetGalley IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW
Future Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Applicable /r/Fantasy Bingo Squares: Disability (Hard Mode, Physical), Cyberpunk (Hard Mode), AI Character (Hard Mode)
“In the upper right of her HUD, text flashed: 😛
“Oh my god. They taught you emoticons.”
“I had access to the in-system internet.”
“Of course you did. Because what better way to introduce a newly created intelligence to the world than through cat pictures and terrible puns.”
“I rather enjoyed the puns.”
“But not the cat pictures?”
“May I ask you an embarrassing question, Sanda?”
“Those are my favorite kind.”
“Are cats… real?”
Where to begin? Velocity Weapon is both flawed and delightful. Seriously, I had so much fun with it! Is it perfectly written? No. Did I love the heck out of it? ABSOLUTELY. While some of the execution and pacing is a bit rocky at times, two characters in particular kept me coming back for more. Sanda is a sergeant in the military, who has been stranded in an escape pod for hundreds of years – the last human left in the system. She’s picked up and rescued by The Light of Berossus (affectionately called Bero), a sentient AI ship with a dark past and a quirky personality.
“You say that a lot, Sanda.”
“It’s a fuck-y kind of day, Bero.”
Even on completion, I have to say that Bero and Sanda remain my favorites. Bero is just so damn adorable at times. He’s been raised on classical music and cat videos; what’s not to love about this friendly AI? I suppose Grippy – the little maintenance bot aboard Bero – also deserves and honorable mention here. For a little critter who can only beep once for no and twice for yes, he’s got an impressive amount of personality.
In addition to the skeleton crew of the Berossus, there are several additional POVs present in the book. I was pleasantly shocked and surprised as I watched all the plot arcs tie in together. At about the 45% mark, I found that I had been severely underestimating this book in the first half. It took me a while to become invested in the other POV chapters at first; Sanda’s brother, Biron, seemed irrelevant, given that he has already died in Sanda’s timeline, and the heist team chapters felt a bit shoehorned in as they did not immediately connect with the primary narrative. That said, the payoff for pulling through these chapters is absolutely there by the end.
I dare not reveal too much, but this book has several unexpected twists and turns. Once you start to see the larger picture, Velocity Weapon has its hooks into you. There are a few hints here and there early on which become properly menacing by the end… and promise some very interesting follow up in later books. Darker, bleaker moments and themes balance the humorous, light tone of the writing. If you like trying to put together a plot or enjoy being taken along for a ride, you will absolutely enjoy this book!
“[She] had experienced a lot of death in her life. Had handed it out herself when the need arose. But she’d never really seen it, she realized. Never felt the cold viciousness of there being nothing where there had once been something. No, not cold. Cold implied intentional indifference. This was… just nothing. [He] was, and now he wasn’t. All the fine threads of his life’s potential snipped short from one breath to the next.”
There’s a tad bit of romance as well, for folks who enjoy that. It’s not a major plot point, but it has some genuinely touching as well as hilarious moments weaseled in to the main story. It’s about the right amount for a book that’s not truly a romance novel, and the couple in question has some great chemistry. True to life, but not overwhelming.
All in all… while there were some fairly severe pacing issues in the first half, this novel was just so much fun and came together so well by the end that I have to give it five stars for pure enjoyment. I had a great time reading it, and that counts for a heck of a lot in my book. The prose was average, but didn’t detract at all – I think this is a novel that works best with a simpler style that doesn’t distract from the story itself. Once Velocity Weapon hits its stride, you won’t want to put it down.