This book is described as an alien science fiction in which one of those “Ancient Aliens” type people turn out to be right. It promises investigations of ruins, professor stuff, relationship troubles, and more.
The Gate: An Invasion Universe Novel
Book 1 of the Astral Conspiracy Series
Author: D.L. Cross
I saw this book advertised in one of those twitter threads where a person will say, “I’ve got some money to blow on books now! Tell me what to read!” and a buttload of people respond. I perused one list in which this book was part, and I thought it looked like mad fun.
Also, interestingly, I definitely bought this on Kindle on December 9, 2019, but I can no longer find a Kindle or electronic version available. I had no idea how to find an e-book until Robbie Cheadle pointed out that D.L. Cross was a pseudonym for Staci Troilo – and lo and behold! We have a universal book link now! So enjoy, and thanks to Robbie.
The premise of the book is as advertised: it’s like the Ancient Aliens TV show meets Stargate. There’s a lot of cool ideas floating around in there, and there’s a lot of pseudoscience and historical research going into it. I didn’t look up everything, but a lot of the stuff had enough “truthiness” to it that I didn’t think it mattered. For example, I didn’t need to find out for myself whether or not there really was a giant snake statue/mound in Ohio – the author’s tone was authoritative enough that I just went ahead and believed it was true in their universe, might even be in our own!
(Mild spoiler?) The captured alien was SO COOL. I love it when you have stories including Cold War sci-fi, and this was chock full of it. There was also an interesting twist about the alien at the end. (End maybe spoiler)
From a premise and idea standpoint, there was a lot to like, and I think it could have been great.
I found 3 major plots – the Tasha/Tomas plot, the Landon plot, and the Nadia/Dev plots – and just couldn’t get into the most important one. My favorite was the Tasha/Tomas plot, because they were often philosophical, political, and emotionally vivid with their interpretation of events. However, the Landon plot was the keystone and centered around the main character, Landon. Landon was a massive coward, and I enjoyed seeing a book focus on a coward (since it’s not common). This plot provided the most background information, and it had a lot of movement. However, it wasn’t my favorite of the plots because the protagonist was not terribly active (which you’ll know I’m not a fan of from my review of Clara). The Landon plot was largely driven by bad guys with unclear motivation (the motivations are probably revealed in a later installment).
Character, however, did make a big difference. The male characters were a little more developed, especially Father Tomas and Landon Thorne. Landon’s cowardice was great, and I just thought Fr. Tomas was the calmest, most focused person in the book – which really made me root for him. It’s pretty much my “thing” to do feminist critiques of EVERY FRIKKIN THING because I accidentally signed up for a feminist lit course in college (they told us it was going to be on monsters in literature – it wasn’t). The female characters were very sexualized and, in my opinion, objectified. So, even though the ladies disappointed me, a lot of the guys made up for it.
Another common plot device was the “we can’t tell you, there’s not enough time!” trope. Never was it so necessary to act so quickly that an explanation could not be forthcoming, and it left me frustrated more often than I was pleasantly surprised later. Many, many books and media make use of this, so it’s not a real problem so much as just a pet peeve of mine.
4/5 Discoball Snowcones
There were three main threads of plot that I’ll talk about:
- Fr. Tomas and Tasha Halpern
This plot’s main purpose was to interrogate the alien currently held by the government. Fr. Tomas was one of my favorite characters, and he added a lot both thematically and as contrast with other characters. Since Fr. Tomas and Tasha were trying to undo some of the damage done by earlier interrogators, this was the section where you see some of the hints of the past and how the alien is there. However, the solution presented at the end of this was achieved rather suddenly – but the twist (that the alien was linked with Landon) was very good.
- Nadia, Dev, Billy, and other randos
This one had a LOT of characters involved. Nadia was a terrible person – and she did it using sex. Because of the way Nadia used sex, a specific way I just don’t see believable or useful, I couldn’t get behind this plot. Dev’s actions in response to Nadia depended on them having sex, as did most of the rest of the plot, and… I just couldn’t dig it. This was definitely my least favorite of the three subplots.
- Landon and the mercs
Like I said above, Landon wasn’t terribly active. However, there was plenty of excitement to be had. Once the mercs take him to South America, the need to survive and get away from them becomes imperative. Landon and the mercs’ indigenous guides are great characters, and I thought the death of Lorena (one of the guides) provided a lot of motivation for the remainder of the book.
Anyway, I hope you’ll take this review and think about if the book sounds like it’d be your speed!
It’s time to start August off right! Stay tuned to find out my new reading theme of the month and sit back for a whirlwind ride.