I regularly read Seanan McGuire’s twitter. She often tweets about ARCs that she has read and enjoyed. I usually request those books from NetGalley, and I usually enjoy them. So when I saw Annihilation Aria, by Michael R. Underwood available, I requested an eARC of it. Sadly, Annihilation Aria did not work for me. Billed as a space opera, it felt more like space fantasy. It was long I’m tired tropes and short on new ideas and characterization. This book was all tell and no show. Two of the three main characters are supposed to be a married couple in love, but nothing they do ever makes me believe that they’re going steady, let alone married. The aliens have no distinguishing characteristics to differentiate them from each other. I was shocked when I found out that this was not the work of a first time author. In the acknowledgements, Mr. Underwood explains that he was trying to write a novel that recaptured the feel of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy (which to me feels much more cosmic comic than space opera, but I can see that that is a minor distinction). That made sense, since many of the story beats were lifted directly from that movie. The author also pats himself on the back for having his male protagonist be a black man from Baltimore, but absolutely nothing about the text made him seem any more than just a cipher, like all of the other characters. Furthermore, the third main character, not a member of the couple, a character named Wheel (get it? She’s a third wheel!), repeatedly betrays the couple’s trust by keeping massive secrets and nothing ever comes of it! The book is not all bad. It was mildly diverting but, overall, not worth your time.
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