Friday, August 31, 2007

The Spectrum Chronicles, Part IV

Title: Heart Chaser

Series: The Spectrum Chronicles #4

Author: Thomas Locke

Genre: YA (13-16) Sci-fi Alternate Reality

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Heart Chaser:

Eleven days had passed since their successful attack on the pirate stronghold. Eleven days of powering along the lightway course, headed for the Solarus system. Eleven days without another contact with pirates or a single message from Wander.

The silence took its toll on Consuela. She kept up steady watches, searching the darkness of space with her heightened sensibilities. Yet in truth the danger of pirates did not keep her in the control room as much as the hope of another word from Wander.

Sleep did not come easy to her during that eleven-day voyage. Her dreams were filled with images of Wander crying out to her, the message lost because she was not listening. She remained tired much of the time and gradually became more withdrawn.

On the last day before their arrival at Solarus, Consuela remained at her station for hours after her watch had ended. Captain Arnol had warned her that as Solarus contained a Hegemony military base, she would not be able to search far afield. There would be too great a danger of being detected. So she stayed and she searched until her weariness rose and fell like great waves and she stumbled out of the control room and fell into her bed.

A young woman plunges into a secret mission to rescue her loved one.

The Writing: The writing of Heart Chaser remains closely tied to the previous two books in the series, Dream Voyager and Path Finder. The points of view are clear-cut and the boundaries set by those points of view are observed most of the time. Characters are interesting and the plot moves forward with moderate tension, though both are slightly predictable.

Since Heart Chaser is the final book in the Spectrum Chronicles, I was especially interested in how this story would end. As a whole it satisfies the reader, even if the climax is a little abrupt, wrapping up the problems a touch too easily and neatly. However, I especially appreciated the lack of a drawn-out ending or long explanations of how everyone lived the rest of their lives, commonly found in fantasy stories. Heart Chaser ends simply, with closure for the reader without losing the feeling that the characters continued to live on.

As in the all the books, a delightful thread of humor weaves throughout the story. I especially love the scene in the middle with a space version of extreme snowboarding. It is one of the highlights of this series. I wish more of these types of memorable scenes had been included throughout The Spectrum Chronicles.

The Story: The strong spiritual thread from Path Finder continues to gain strength in this story. Perhaps too much strength. While Biblically sound, the spiritual principles tend to be squashed together into single scenes, where they become the overwhelming focus. The result is preachiness. In addition, I think I find the tone preachy because the spiritual thread does not directly impact the climax or outcome of the story. You can remove those elements of the story, and the plot will be unaffected. This then gives me the feeling that those principles were put into the story to teach me something and that the story is only there to serve that purpose—whether that was the author’s intention or not.

Summary: If you are willing to overlook mediocre writing and don’t mind the preachy tone of the story, Heart Chaser brings a predictable but solid close to The Spectrum Chronicles with a wonderful flair of humor. Good for a light evening of reading.

Rating: 2.9 out of 5

Still interested? Order Heart Chaser here.

(Click to see reviews for Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3.)

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