“Alien Corps” is the first book in the “Prosperine” series which I would classify as a spiritual contemporary science fiction story; written by PJ McDermott. The audiobook was well narrated by Lisa Michelle Negron who has a few Audible titles under her belt at the time of this review. As a side note, the author has also available a prequel to this story called “Born of Fire”. The book’s main character (Hickory) is sent to a newly discovered planet so she can report back on its political association along with the availability of a precious element needed by Earth’s ships to achieve faster than light space travel. Additionally, she is assigned the role of seeking out and communicate with a spiritualist called “The Teacher” relating to a prophesy discovered long ago. Not only these, but our main character is also known for her blemished past from a previous assignment, which could affect her new assignment. If you enjoy more young adult science fiction writing style and a bit of spirituality woven in, you might find this book appealing. For me, the book was a bit fractured and flat compared to others in the genre. I’m not to say it is a bad book, but I found that it was quite different than what I had expected from its description. It was neither an amazing science fiction story nor a complete disaster. I found the story, its characters and its narration somewhat mediocre based on the number of book I have listened too. However, I would say if you enjoy YA writing style and science fiction, you might find this book appealing.
From the book’s summary description, I did not expect it to be written in a YA-style. The conversations and sentence structure were often quite simplistic and lacked a sense of depth. With the detailed world building, I felt like I was dropped into an original Star Trek series episode and I sat back to watch it unfold. However, I was hoping both the characters and story would align to take full advantage of this great world, but I did not feel they did. Many of the characters felt non-dimensional and I could not find a character that I really related too or cared for deeply. Again, this may be based on the book’s writing and story focus. I found the religious or spiritual aspects of the book an odd addition along with some questionable theological components. While I understand this is a piece of science fiction, I think the book could have done without the spiritual underpinnings and still been a good story.
I did enjoy the continued search and negotiation for this precious element as the story progressed. You can see the struggle between the relations to the planet’s inhabitants and was it more important than the resources necessary for space travel? Yet, at times there were technologies included on this distant and foreign world that are a part of our world that felt wrong to be elsewhere. For example, the GPS (global positioning system) reference that was used to track people on the planet, I felt it should have been called something else or referred to as something like our GPS. Although I will admit this was a small thing, I do remember clearly when it was used and how it pulled me from the story. There is a need for one to suspend belief while reading this story, and if you can get past that it is well laid out. I did like the superstitions of the tribal people when they met more modern-day weapons or objects and how they tried to explain them to one another.
The book’s narration by Lisa Michelle Negron was good. She was able to easily voice the multiple characters along with a few accents giving characters their own unique personalities. Some of the narration was a bit monotone or lacking inflection which the story required. The audio itself was clean and free of any artifacts I recall. The narrator’s voice was easy to understand, and the reading was at a good pace.
For parents and younger readers, take note that this book does contain vulgar language, alcohol use, some rather graphic depictions of torture, and some sexual subject matter (prostitution and innuendos) which may not be appropriate for all audiences.
In summary, although I did not find the book overly enjoyable, it was entertaining, and the world was well crafted. Most of the story lines are closed in this book, yet it is clear that there are going to be additional books in the series released. I would have liked for the author to have carry over the complexity of the world to the characters and the story itself as I believe this would have made it much more likeable. Maybe future books in the series will give us the depth and escape many of us enjoy when listening to audiobooks.