Title: The Star Agency Book 1 of The Star Agency Chronicles
Author: R.E. Weber
Before I get into the pro/con of the book I wish to express a few thoughts. 1) I usually avoid series books. They tend to drag out over years and years, the author in some cases dies or alters too much of the story etc. However in this case the synopsis seemed very interesting and I like science fiction so I gave it a go. 2) It surprised me how much Weber and I thought alike. In all three of my published book (published under DeWayne Watts and sold on Amazon) I insert Star Trek references. I started watching Star trek at age 6 and in all of my books I weave it in the conversations of the characters. Weber did the same and it brought a smile to my face each time. So I assume that Weber enjoys Star Trek. He also inserted a single reference to Star Wars, but hey my son likes Star Wars.
Character Development: I was able to jump right into the story; it was a quick start to ‘feel’ for the characters. I was able to reach back to when I was 13 and identify with Theo and put myself in his place. I was also able to understand his relationship with the other characters in the book. As I read I became Theo, but back to when I was 13. I believe any reader could easily understand Theo and agree with the things he did. His interactions with Jules and his aunt were very real and spot on. I have had in my past similar relationships. Later in the book his relationships with other important characters was also very easy for me to get into.
Plot: As with all stories there are flat spots, or transitions that seem to move slowly. Although Weber had them early on and a one later, they were far from dead flat spots. He kept me engaged and moving forward. I thought that was interesting, regardless of what needed to be narrated to move the plot he kept it moving. This is very difficult to do as a writer. You have areas in the plot that detailed narrative must be written and some authors go flat line dead. He never hit the flat line. For example sometimes readers will ‘skim’ because the narrative seems to move slow, although he had slow spots I was never tempted to ‘skim’, he kept me fully engaged. He developed the plot well and as I mentioned moved the reader forward.
Dialog: It took me a few pages to get that this was written in United Kingdom English and not American English. In case you may be wondering, there is a huge difference, just set the native language on your computer to British English and you will notice. After I realized that it became easier to understand certain phrases and wording. I watch a lot of movies out of the UK and some from the north of England that use heavy Gallic, so I was able to understand the use of non-American wording. The dialog was well written and kept true to the primary characters.
Narrative: Weber did a very good job on the narrative, very interactive and involved. A few flat spots, but nothing that stood out as dead. He kept me engaged and intrigued.
Character Development: Nothing of serious note. He did a good job drawing out the primary characters.
Plot: Again noting negative.
Dialog: Just one single little point. At two places he used ‘movie’ dialog from American Television from the 1980’s. What is that? In the 80’s it was very popular to have a character say “Oh I will….I will” It was a reparative statement to emphasize or stress a point. It was very much in use in the 80’s but fell away over time. This was the very first time I have seen it in a long time. Although it does not detract from the plot, it is easier to use that phrase then to use narrative to describe the character expression or body language to add the stressor. But again it did not detract; it was just a surprise to see it in a modern novel.
Narrative: As with dialog only one point. He makes three references to the Cheshire Cat. “Theo smiled like a Cheshire Cat” as example. This was a serious shortcut to describe a ‘mischievous smile’ or ‘cynical smile’. In essence a shortcut to describe how the character was smiling. But here is my point, when a book is being sold on a worldwide scale using a reference that is native to a certain country will be lost on some in other countries. Also “Alice in Wonderland” is not being read by younger readers and the above phrase is in the book and not the movie. So even if someone may have seen the movie the phrase may be lost, a reader of Weber’s book may not get the point of the Cheshire Cat. Also when the recent incantation of the movie was released there was a documentary released on American Television that exposed the author of “Alice in Wonderland” as a child predator and the story is about his activities (hidden within the story) and he also wrote it to entice two girls that lived in his area. The documentary went into grave detail about why he wrote the story. Since I suffered a horrible childhood (My account ‘David’s mark’) and I watched the documentary when I see this phrase in the book I skipped it. On that note this is more of a personal pick. However I to refer back to the fact that on a worldwide scale this phrase would be lost on many.
Final Thoughts: Weber did an awesome job for a science fiction novel I could not write sci-fi. Since I love Star Trek many have encouraged me to try to write sci-fi but I know I can’t. Weber did a great job and I will buy the rest of the series. He really opened a door to a new sci-fi saga. I told my son that his book was equal to the start of the Star Wars series (not like it but as good as). I also feel that this is worthy of movie quality. We need a new sci-fi movie series. Also I think that this series is a perfect YA series, Young Adult. I have tried several times to write a YA series aimed at boy’s ages 10/11-13/14 but I can’t write myself there. Weber DID it. He wrote a perfect adventure series for that age group. I was taken back to my childhood and really poured myself into this story and the whole time I was reflecting back to the Hardy Boy’s novels I read when I was young. I would love to see Weber also include this in the genre of ‘Young Adult/Sci-fi, I believe the young kids would eat this novel alive, it is a perfect YA adventure series.
Well done Weber and I enjoyed this very much.