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Helios continues the Universe Eventual saga begun with Chimera. This is a fast-paced space drama with tense action, tight dialog, and tangled relationships. It takes the “boot camp” cadets from Chimera into a military academy experience on a space station prepping them for a real mission. (Warning: there are spoilers for any who haven’t read Chimera. Read it before Helios or this review.) Marcus continues his manipulative and deceitful ways to push forward his agenda which is made all the easier by Chief Moorland’s willingness to meet her goals to save those in her care on Stephen’s Point by any means necessary, Doctor Duncan’s nearly blind faith and Meghan’s naïveté. Even Selena’ s skepticism can’t keep Marcus’ Machiavellian schemes at bay. Adding to the great cast of characters is one of the most intriguing – Chimera herself. She is a bit of an enigma but plays a forceful role as the drama unfolds.

There are so many elements that come to play in Helios. We have science problems and other puzzles to solve, chief among which is getting Chimera free to take the return journey to Earth. We have challenges to overcome, people to motivate, a world to save and the unknown, but likely a bleak future based on the strange events surrounding Exchange Four. All of this occurs in the backdrop of a largely student-run training arena with Marcus in the lead. This must be student-led because it is only this generation who may take the Chimera back to Earth. So this book has a bit of everything but never loses its way, never becomes too tangled to follow and delivers it all in at a quick clip.

[Full Disclosure: I received an advanced review copy for an honest review.]

N J Tanger

Courtesy Facebook, The Universe Eventual Team. From right to left: Nathan M. Beauchamp, Rachael Tanger, and Joshua Russell.

Amongst all of the loveliness of the store, there is a bit of a challenge with this novel; it is dark for much of the novel. It is similar to Revenge of the Sith in that it seems the bad guys win all too frequently. The author’s promise us this tide will turn, that this will be the series’s “Empire Strikes Back” or Frodo and Sam in Mordor, with the Jedi and the King yet to come into their own.

What did I loved:

  • Fast-paced with crisp dialog.
  • Machiavellian machinations from Marcus that would make Palpatine
  • Interesting characters and relationships (especially Moorland/Marcus, Moorland/Duncan and Theo/Selena/Meghan but others as well).
  • Clever, well-executed story arc
  • Another cool cover
  • A beautiful mix of puzzles, people, and passion.

Of what was I less fond?

  • Dark, with little relief

Helios is out today (October 24th)! I highly recommend it for your reading pleasure.

************************Light spoilers*******************

While writing this review, I was struck by the parallels I saw between Revenge of the Sith and Helios. While all of these types of comparisons break-down, just ponder

  • Marcus – Palpatine
  • Theo – Anakin
  • Selena – Han, a bit scruffy, rebellious and somewhat cynical
  • Chief Moorland – Senator Bail Organa (Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum would probably be a better fit if he were in Revenge)
  • Duncan – Obi-Wan (Qui-Gon Jinn, if he were still alive)
  • Meghan – Padme

I was also struck by how Lord of the Flies the whole thing becomes while on Chimera. Now that Marcus is fully in charge, he will stop at nothing to get his way. The film Taps also comes to mind. Of course, Helios is none of these and wraps in elements of all of these. You get the science and world saving of Interstellar, the science puzzle solving of The Martian, the interaction of Taps and Lord of the Flies. It’s pretty amazing to do all that while keeping it coherent.