Boggling mystery, technology and secrets in The Forever Watch by David Ramirez

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Writing Thoughts

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Massive spaceship Noah is making it’s way with the remnants of humanity from the ruined earth towards Canaan. But after breeding duty, what should have been several painless months knocked out cold, Hana is left with a sense of loss, which together with her huge mistrustful boyfriend Barrens who has come across bodies disgustingly savaged persuades her to dig behind the surface of the society she has lived in her whole life. The secrets they uncover change everything and throw the Noah into chaos.

There was so much to this book. It took twists and turns that I totally didn’t expect, and thinking back on it is quite difficult. Where to start? It was longer, more complex and less comprehensible than I thought it would be. I was interested but not drawn into the world, wanted to learn the secrets but wasn’t that fussed when I did and wanted to get alongside the characters but felt held at a distance.

The gradual unveiling of the Noah, it’s origin, inhabitants, mission and many mysteries is pretty good. You do want to know more about the world Hana has for so long unquestioningly lived in – and the secrets when they are uncovered are big, important and shocking. But I was never quite emotionally attached to them; never desperate for the next revelation. It felt academic rather than survival based even then the threat of death and danger loomed; the makings of a thriller but it didn’t quite grip me.

This is partly because I didn’t quite feel the world was fully realised. I had bizarre pictures in my head of all the different scenes – but they felt totally random, picked out from a mess of things. I never felt as though I knew how big anything was, or really got a real glimpse of society. Though this echoes the feelings of our frustrated inquisitive main characters, it never really went away. I wasn’t given enough reason to identify with the setting to care about it’s secrets and possible end.

Another thing that alienated me was the high level of tech talk. Hana is a whizz programmer and naturally creates a monster of a program to help their search for information. But they talked about it a lot… and though I’m good at skim reading, it still bugged me. And if you don’t understand… you also have no idea how important it might be. So I could have missed something huge – not sure!

The tech, again, meant that huge portions of information could be downloaded into character’s heads, and this happened several times in different ways. This is a pet peeve of mine in books, whether it’s tech or magic – when a character that you have journeyed with suddenly knows a whole lot more than you do – and there’s no chance to catch up.

Then for characters, only Hana and her boyfriend Barrens were drawn with much depth – and even this was limited. I think I would have liked some more humanity about – I could have identified with the world a bit better. Hana is introspective and we do see her point of view and her emotion, but in a bit too much isolation from the rest of the world.

Overall, I think it had really great elements, but felt like it needed a couple more eggs, some rigorous stirs and a bit longer in the oven to make it come out just right.

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