/* Side note: In the Afterword of this book, the author tells us where this novel originated. His son was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, and in the final stages of his life he envisioned this story. Michael and his son worked on the book together, but ultimately his son passed away before the novel was completed. The author promised his son he'd finish the book after he was gone, and he made good on his promise.
I found the story of the author's loss to be touching, not the least because his son's name is my name—Joshua Edwards. I have infinite respect for the author for finishing this book, and for persevering after one of the most terrible things that could happen, losing a child. My review is more on the critical side, but judging from the book's Amazon and Goodreads reviews, I'm glad to see Joshua's story bringing joy to so many people. */
My Rating: 3.5/10
In The Emissary, a troubled young woman named Holly Burton is recruited by an ancient alien race to save humanity from extinction. However, her task proves to be challenging as she faces opposition from world leaders, religious zealots, and her own fears and doubts. She must lead a remnant of humanity into space, armed with knowledge and abilities given to her by the aliens, without losing her own humanity in the process.
The premise of this story is intriguing—in fact, there was a lot of similarity with the setup of my own book, Grave of the Waiting, so I was naturally very onboard—however, the execution leaves much to be desired. The first chapter sets the stage for the story in a powerful and explosive way, but the exposition felt heavy-handed right off the bat, and the dialogue between some characters felt rather stilted.
I really wanted more character development throughout the book as well. A couple of times, I was introduced to multiple characters at once, making it difficult to keep track of who's who, with no way to tell who's important and who's a side character. This lack of depth results in a shallow emotional impact, even when these characters were facing life-threatening situations.
They certainly face many of those. The central plot is varied and engaging enough to keep readers interested—seeing the protagonist survive assassination attempts, travel to Jupiter, and more—but again it just came down to not feeling connected enough to the characters. It suffered from some consistency and structural issues as well. There's one moment when a major conflict deflates abruptly, and the villain's motivations suddenly changed. He became a sort of cartoon-villain who's over-the-top racist, despite no prior indication of his racism.
Overall, I thought The Emissary presented a promising concept that had the potential to be an exciting science fiction story. However, the lack of character depth, inconsistent details, and heavy exposition made it difficult to fully engage with the narrative. I give it a 3.5 out of 10. There are many cool action scenes and interesting technological ideas, but those looking for a science fiction adventure with strong character development and depth may want to look elsewhere.
/* Note: This review reflects only my personal opinion of the book, not the opinion of the entire Team Sciencefiction.news */