Review: Shards, Book One

Shards, Book One

By Peter Prellwitz

John Wyeth works for NATech. The company’s purpose is to imagine what is impossible today but will be possible in twenty years, and prepare the public for what is coming. John’s the best at what he does, seeing trends and extrapolating where technology will lead. And then he’s killed.

Sort of.

He wakes up from a Healer’s Sleep six hundred years later to discover a radically different world. In this world, companies can harvest souls and “reprogram” them, making anyone be anything they desire. A Resistance has formed and saved John from six centuries of servitude. They want his knowledge and skills to aid them in the fight.

The only problem? They couldn’t save John’s old body – after all, it had been dead a long time. He not only has to adjust to life in a new century… but also a new body.

I received this book as a gift and, frankly, based on the back cover description and the image on the front cover, I wasn’t interested. (My apologies for the Kindle ad; it’s the only clear image of the cover of book one I could find.) Don’t let the bad computer graphics or the only semi-interesting description on the back discourage you. The book is fantastic, filled with great sci-fi concepts and likable characters. Prellwitz has clearly thought out his world to a great extent and puts that knowledge to good use.

I was more than a bit concerned about the new body bit. Spoiler! John’s new body is female. This kind of subject matter could quickly go either After School Special (girls are just as good as boys!) or it could go to rather adult themes. Prellwitz straddles the line well, though. He doesn’t ignore the complications such a change would bring, but he also keeps it very clean.

In fact, some of the best writing in the book deals with the sudden change in gender. One scene deals with John learning how to walk with a center of gravity different from what his mind says he should have. In another scene, John struggles with his changed strength.

Despite the great characters and strong world, there are some negatives to this book. There are several “info-dump” chapters that are simply exposition about the world. They’re well written, but there’s no hiding that they are merely informing the reader (and John) about what has happened since his death. These chapters are fun and pass fairly quickly, though.

Another issue lies entirely with the publishing house. It seems they decided to save money by firing their editors or hiring substandard ones. The book is rife with typos that threw me out of the story. Dropped periods, missing letters, random equals signs strewn about… I’d venture there’s a typo about every fifth page or so. I understand that it’s impossible (or nearly so) to produce a novel free of typos, but errors on this scale are ridiculous.

The other problem is… pretty much nothing happens in this book. John dies. He wakes up. He gets filled in on what’s changed in the world. He adjusts to his new life. As plots go, this one’s fairly stagnant. On the other hand, the writing is fun and the character interaction so honest I didn’t even notice until the end of the book. Another thing to consider here is that this is book one of four, though it appears the author intended all four to be read together. This is really the first quarter of a story.

I mentioned at the beginning of the review that I had no interest in the novel based on the cover. I have so many books I haven’t read that look far more interesting than this based on the outside. Why did I even bother reading it?

The author is a confessing Christian. He’s Lutheran, and WELS at that (for those of you up-to-date with your alphabet soup). I was told this and intrigued. There aren’t many Christian science fiction writers. Could this guy be any good?

Prellwitz does not shout “CHRISTIAN!” at any point during the novel. He does incorporate Christian characters. He does indicate that he, as an author, has a certain worldview. However, he never gets preachy, and there’s never a “decision for Chirst”-type moment that seems to infect most, if not all, Christian fiction.

I do recommend this book. I’ve received Book Two for Christmas, and as soon as I clear my cue of immediate reading needs, I’ll be diving into that one. I hope Prellwitz can keep up the good writing, and I’ll let you know either way when I finish it!

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