Great story and edge of the seat cliffhangers. Keeps you guessing and wanting more. Definitely worth checking out. The narrator did an excellent job keeping you engaged.
There isn't a whole lot of information available on this book in English, so I will provide a detailed review. This review will contain minor SPOILERS, so please stop reading now if you do not want to see them.
Black Star is a Swedish science fiction novel that has a lot of thriller elements. This is overall an entertaining listen, and while it falls short in some areas, mostly in character development and originality, it is still enjoyable. I received this as a VIP reward, and it's a good option if offered.
The "mysteriously missing airliner" plot is hardly new in science fiction, and unfortunately isn't new in the real world either. However, Black Star quickly shifts from being a missing aircraft story to being a story about survival on an alien world. The Ersgard brothers keep the audience interested to learn more about the characteristics of this world, the strange creatures encountered there, and the nebulous threat posed by the forces leading the most hostile aliens. There are light time travel elements and what appear to be pyschic powers incorporated into the story as well.
The characters are where this novel falls short. Monty, the first of the two protagonists, is a hyperintelligent savant with what appears to be some form of extra-sensory perception. However, she has a very poor relationship with her family that tends to make her lack confidence. Her challenge to overcome her fears and self-doubt leads her to receive the most character development of anyone in the novel, and she is the most interesting character, although that isn't a difficult achievement in this novel.
Henry, the second protagonist, is some sort of elite government special operative (his exact job is never specified). This character caused the most problems for me. He is written to have a near 1980s-era Schwarzennegger character capacity for survival, is capable of near-superhuman James Bond-like feats of skill, endurance, and competence, and has no flaws other than a bad temper and the occasional bout of guilt and feelings of worthlessness over the untimely death of his wife. He simply isn't an interesting character. I was sincerely hoping the obvious romantic subplot between Henry and Monty wouldn't appear, or at least would have been more subtle, but the Ersgard brothers couldn't resist.
Given these two characters, a foil is desperately needed for both of them, but the third major character, Emma, is a complete failure. Emma is a completely useless character that is only employed for increasing suspense, as she is constantly putting herself in danger while carrying her (surprisingly well-behaved) baby daughter. Aside from this, her major role is to give other characters headaches and and get screamed at by Henry. Emma is portrayed as a devout Christian gospel singer of an unspecified Protestant denomination, who the authors delight in placing in situations where she encounters alien worlds and alien beings, thereby challenging her faith. The topic of Christians interacting with alien beings in science fiction is an deep one filled with great opportunities for character development, but the Ersgard brothers write Emma as a paper-thin idiot prone to panic attacks; she is so poorly developed that she almost seems to be a parody. Instead of reacting to the reveal of the alien world and its creatures with the minimum of Biblical analysis that even the most basic Bible study would enable, the authors just have her freak out incessantly and quote the five or six lines of the Bible that non-Christian authors are aware of. Emma's career as a singer is also mentioned once in her introduction and then never, ever mentioned again - even when it would make sense for Emma to sing to her baby to calm her down. I'm not saying that Henry and Monty needed to Go Into SPACE! with C.S. Lewis, but Emma is simply a character that is a missed opportunity because the Ersgard brothers seem to be contemptuous of Christianity (and this is borne out by the writing of the other characters), and simply were unable to concieve of a Christian character capable of doing anything besides repeating the same few Bible verses. Emma could have been a good counter to Monty and Henry if she was better written, but instead she is easily the weakest part of the book.
Another issue with the novel are how, despite the exceptional intelligence of Monty, and the overwhelming skill of Henry, both fail to take advantage of obvious opportunties to charge Monty's all-important mobile phone, especially in the last chapters of the novel where they are in an environment with plenty of electrical power, USB ports, and charging cables. Instead, the authors use the mobile phone battery as a crutch to increase suspense at the expense of logic. This shortcoming suggests the Ersgards need a better editor.
The action scenes are fairly well-written and suspenseful, and these, along with the mystery behind the alien species and the enemy leadership, are the best parts of the book. Players of science fiction video games, however, may note many similarities between the hostile aliens in Black Star and the hostile aliens in many top-selling game titles.
As a side note, the cover art bothers me, since the aircraft in the book is a Boeing 777, but the aircraft on the cover has tiny little engines that are maybe half the size of the 777's huge turbines.
The narrator, William Hope, is very competent, but he is almost overenthusiastic in his efforts to build suspense. I would have liked if he dialed back the drama a little; he sounded more like he was narrating football playoff highlights than a science fiction novel.
Black Star is a decent and enjoyable science fiction novel. Heinlein it is not, but it will keep you entertained. I sincerely hope the Ersgards introduce more interesting and multi-layered characters in future chapters of this series.
Great story line… Spoiler alert Switzerland saves the world!!!!
This read was surprisingly good and captivating. Although initially I could not get into the plot the characters were so interesting and diverse that I hung onto it and got rewarded with a new series and now I can’t wait for book 2
OMG I can't believe I wasted the time to listen to this. The book is across between zombie Apocalypse and sifi with a religious, nut in it as a character. The characters were shallow and undeveloped. The plot line was tortuous. The book was not enjoyable And was so bad I found myself laughing at times.
This was a surprisingly good listen, I recommend it.
This book was awesome, in my opinion. it was like a roller coaster ride for me. It gave me a range of emotions such as excitement, frustration, disappointment, anticipation, relief, you name it, and I felt it.
All we would need is organ music to accompany the voice of the narrator to take us to early radio theory.
I don’t normally go for this type of book but so glad I did, as soon as I finished book one I downloaded book two. Excellent escapism . I would certainly recommend this book, it’s different but very good.
Worst book I’ve ever tried to listen to. Bad narrator, horrible story line. Bad, bad, bad
way too many skip overs with no real explanation of how things really work, will not read, purchase any more of series