Friday 9 November 2018

Review: The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt

The Dreaming Stars is the sequel to The Wrong Stars, picking up more or less where the previous novel finished. The crew of the White Raven, along with the people they have rescued from the machines left behind by evil alien gods, are loitering around inside an old mining asteroid they've taken from space pirates by ruthlessly murdering the lot. Everyone's feeling a bit bored, but snarky and bantering away and being cute at each other. They're waiting to find out whether they can resume adventuring as themselves, or whether they have to make up new identities and start new lives somewhere.

For a long time, very little happens but people talking with each other about their relationships, and flirting, and bantering and then talking about their relationships some more.

Eventually, they go out to find the captain's ex, and to get a job, so they can then talk about their relationships en route, followed by some more talks about relationships. (Not that there is anything particularly interesting going on in the relationships. It's just people flailing "I <3 U! Let's have sex! We had sex! I <3 U!  U R HOT! I AM CUTE!" at each other ad infinitum.)

As you might guess from the plot summary so far, The Dreaming Stars is very different from its predecessor. Sure, everyone is still chattering away like a somewhat more murdery Joss Whedon ensemble cast, but there is very little plot movement in the first half of the book. And in the second half? The plot gets very very silly, in an unintentional and unfunny sort of way.

As hammy as the first novel was, it kept moving. This one is hammy, clunky and filled with mindbogglingly annoying rehashes of the first book. Exposition done poorly is one thing, but when the book starts to rehash "remember how we once had a metaphor-rich conversation about ants?", it's not just important plot points that are being given the clunky exposition treatment, it's half the previous novel.

It's still readable because it's very simple, much like Twilight or the newspaper The Sun, but The Dreaming Stars has run out of steam before it began. With a plot that barely moves and, once kicked into gear, turns daft, the poor writing becomes the coup de grace that sinks the ship. The first book might have been fun, but it seems the series is not worth persevering with.

Rating: 2.5/5

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