This week I read SIO by C.A Blocke. I received a free ARC copy of SIO in return for an honest review.
Set in a near-future environment, mega-corporations have taken over the most habitable of planets, creating domed utopias for their devoted employees. Everyone else has been shunted off to a multitude of mostly habitable planets and moons where they scrape by as farmers and tradesfolk, miners and merchants, bounty hunters and scavengers.
James Marks and his crew of scav trash operate their ship, SIO, on a mission to obtain a mysterious piece of new tech. It changes everything and leaves him stranded somewhere he doesn’t recognize with a cute, if not a bit annoying, tech scientist. James doesn’t know, when he first meets Michael, but his life is about to change in a very surprising way
Reviewing the prose
C.A Blocke is a good writer, when it comes to the technical nitty-gritty prose. The descriptions are vivid, the banter is witty, the setting is built up without any information overload, and the first quarter of the book is colourful and catchy.
But Blocke goes fast. The snappy prose only stands up for so long, before you start to realise there isn’t enough substance there. The characters don’t develop, and the scenery flies past so fast you start to get lost. The main characters end up in a relationship in just a few chapters, and then all conflict between them is forgotten. The crew of the SIO are one dimensional tropes, and there are subplots that go no where.
You just end up not caring what happens, because no one has any depth to care about.
Reviewing the worldbuilding
SIO starts off with a great premise. A setting where humanity is ruled by megacorporations that dictate the galactic economy and control the average man. Scavengers, mercs and outsiders live on the edge of civilisation, surviving by underhanded means. Building their own little society.
Then, it just gets too complex. We’re introduced to new political entities, side characters who we never quite understand the importance of (one of the antagonists fills this spot), and all without much elaboration. Planets fly by like theater backdrops, two dimensional and quickly shoved back behind the curtain.
The world had a lot of potential, but it got too convoluted too quickly. And all without the explanations that were necessary to understand it.
I’d give SIO a 4/10. Blocke writes good prose, and sets up a nice premise. Sadly, the execution just wasn’t good enough. There are no big grammar or spelling errors (amazing how often there are in books I’ve read), the cover is lovely, and I was actually hooked for the first few chapters. But it didn’t lead to anything rewarding.
You can check out SIO on Goodreads.