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Book Review: Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

Title: Consuming Fire

Author: John Scalzi

Series: Interdependency #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: The Interdependency―humanity’s interstellar empire―is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded. Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth―or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power. While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war. A war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire. -Goodreads

The Review:

Consuming Fire delivered on every front!

I finished book 1 of this series feeling a bit meh, but was interested enough in the story to see where it was bound. I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed this sequel. It’s definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

Several things change in Consuming Fire: the slightly overdone characters relaxed a bit, the plot got more interesting, the pacing was on point, it had a great sense of adventure, tricky political maneuverings, and the “reveals” were well worth the buildup.

In my review of Collapsing Empire, I mentioned that I didn’t really care for some of the characters. They didn’t lose the essence of their basic makeup in this book, but were a lot more realistic in execution. It helped matters quite a bit that the pacing just careened, which didn’t give them as much time to babble on at length. But also the plot points introduced (sciency stuff) were interesting enough to keep me page-turning, even had the characters not improved.

My favorite thing about the book was the sense of adventure and discovery it offered. We got real answers on the theories that had been floating around and travel to different areas of space to boot. This is one of Scalzi’s more ambitious overarching plot structures, and I thought the flow theory and new discoveries were a definitely highlight to the whole series. It also served to build an excellent momentum heading into the finale. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The only things keeping it from a solid 5-stars were that I still didn’t feel any real depth from the characters, even though I thoroughly enjoyed their plights in this book. And as much as I loved this second installment, I still think I preferred Old Man’s War. It’s very hard to top John Perry.

Recommendations: if you’ve heard amazing things about this series, it’s probably from people who have already read this second book. It delivered on all the things the first book didn’t, and I loved every moment. So if like me you’re hesitant after the first book, keep reading! It’s worth it. :)

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by Niki Hawkes

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