Pros: interesting new aliens, excellent world-building, utopic Earth
Cons: frustrating, somewhat boring, limited plot
Having gone through the transcendental machine, Riley and Asha find themselves separated, on far flung worlds. They must use their new skills to get back to Federation space and find each other.
This is very much a middle book, working specifically to get the two protagonists from one place to another. Along the way they each meet an important figure from their past - which was the most interesting part of the book, as those scenes touched on the events of the first book and brought one of the mysteries of that book forward.
The world-building is top notch, with several new alien races introduced. Gunn’s aliens are all unique, and have histories as well as cultures. Similarly, he extrapolates a future for Earth that encompasses AI protection, a future that has a lot of utopic qualities (though, naturally, not everyone is happy with the status quo).
Having said that, I personally found this book fairly boring. While the aliens Riley and Asha encounter are interesting, the first third of the book felt like it had no relevance to the rest of the story. I also found the ending anti-climactic and confusing.
There’s a 2 page afterward that narrates some fascinating events that sound like they would have made for a very interesting novel, which I’m hoping play a big part in the next book.
There’s enough of interest here for me to at least check out the third book, as I am curious to learn what comes next. But I’m hoping it’s got more plot and less wandering than this book.