AKA, the worst book in the history of all things, in all the universes, past, present, and future. Previously published at Goodreads.
Excessively repetetive extreme redundancy of unnecessary repetition. This seems like a novella that was forced to be extended by executive meddling.
The “twist” was incredibly predictable, to the point where I was thinking “These are supposed to be the smartest people Venusian society has. How have they not figured this out yet?”. Note that I was thinking this dozens of chapters before it was officially revealed. A twist that the reader can see coming a light year away but the characters cannot can be ok, but not when done this incompetently.
The political allegory was forced. To the point where it barely counts as allegory anymore and almost counts as a straight up political treatise instead. It wasn’t explored thoroughly enough to be worth the page count. As a background element to make the universe seem more alive, ok, have it there, but it was brought up constantly enough to be the main driving force, but not explored deeply enough to serve in that role. Repetitive mentions of the same shallow observations.
The science was… well, The Core had better science. Lord of the Rings had better science. Now, changing some fundamental piece of science to see how things would play out is fine, and sometimes scientific realism needs to bend to serve the story. But this wasn’t either of these. This came off as straight up preaching of some bizzarre scientific hive mind conspiracy theory. Also, as much as these guys had figured out of what Earth thought about science, when their own scientists start talking about a variant of the Panspermia hypothesis… No one mentions that some people from Earth once floated that theory? It’s not the most popular theory among biologists, but it is well known and not firmly rejected.
The Eden bit… ok… what the hell was the point in that? Ok, I can see why the relevant characters thought it was a good idea. But I don’t see how it improved the story or added to it. It came off like an extra diversion to bump up the page count. Page count driven plot, and as my first paragraph indicated, this really wasn’t the only spot this happened.
The primary romance subplot was surprisingly decent and well done, compared to the rest of the book at least. I don’t know, maybe the bad parts of this were in those sentences that seemed to have entire paragraphs go missing(this happened a lot). There’s a basis for a good standalone story here.
A major background conspiracy just stopped dead. I can see a reason it would wrap up quickly, but it just stopped and characters set up for some Babylon 5 level intrigue simply disappear off the pages, never seen or heard from again. Not even a passing mention.
Flashback scenes were poorly integrated into the story. Set off too firmly in some spots, not set off firmly enough in others.
Also, where the hell was the proofreader? I don’t know about the other versions, but the proofreading on the Kindle edition at least is bad enough that it should be a firing offense. There were points where paragraphs went in such nonsensical directions, that I could make absolutely no sense of in terms of the story or even in terms of the English language itself, that I would not be surprised if some of my other concerns disappeared if the book was proofread and rereleased in a corrected edition. I still have no idea if it’s supposed to be Tylara or Tyrala. I’m pretty sure it’s Lorili, but maybe it’s Korili? There were a few points where dialog was attributed to someone not only not in the scene, BUT NOT EVEN ON THE FRAKING PLANET. This was mostly easy to work out from context, but it did draw me out of he story- and I wonder if I might have missed more subtle errors of this nature. Randomly placed quotation marks made dialog hell to follow in some parts. I might be kinder on this point if it was a self published book, but it’s not. Presumably Baen knows what a proofreader or an editor is. But whoever was supposed to take care of that fell down on the job pretty badly.