Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Carol Van Natta's Overload Flux

Sometimes I read books and get way too excited about them. Sometimes, I hear a concept that just sounds way too cool and I can't wait to find out where it leads. So when I got a book about an interstellar battle against a greedy corporation that was cheating people and killing them in the process I was ready for some real excitement. I downloaded my copy of Overload Flux and I just couldn't wait to read a rip-roaring yarn about genetically engineered good guys against evil money-grubbing corporate types. I went into this expecting sheer awesome, but I was sadly disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. There were good parts to the story. Van Natta very obviously put in a ton of time planning this out. The two point of view characters have powers that play off of each other very well. The concept, as I stated above, is excellent. Add in a main character with a deadbeat boss and a past that could kill her just adds to it. There is a lot of potential here.

There is a love story that works and moves the plot along nicely. The main character development arc centers around it. Our heroine, Mairwen, is convinced that she in not truly human and is incapable of feeling emotion. By the end of the book she is in love and having trouble processing all of the good feelings from the emotions themselves and also from the type of physical contact that comes along with them. She comes a long way in under three hundred pages.

There was a truly entertaining firefight near the middle of the work as well. Things cooked. People acted quickly and consequences followed actions. The characters were truly spontaneous and did what they needed to do without meditating on it. The unexpected happened and was dealt with. It was by far the best written part of the book and was as good as passages I've read from authors who have sold millions of copies.

Unfortunately, Overload Flux suffers from a lot of deficiencies. Primary among them is a decided lack of action. Mairwen spends more time thinking than she does doing. The book plods along with a think, describe, think, describe pattern. Very little physical action takes place. Even in a sequence near the end of the tome where Mairwen is wounded and travelling around the inside of a ship desperate to evade detection we get little to no action and pages and pages of her thinking about what is going on around her and the probable consequences when she should have been acting. This thing just drags.

The love story in the book is a bit too overshadowed and predictable. I'm a stereotypical male. I miss romantic things all the time simply because I don't pay attention to those types of things and even I thought that it was beaten to death. It's a time-worn trope because it works and I get that, but when things get to the point that even I notice that it's overdone, well, it's overdone. I will admit though that it did add up to a payoff at the end when the two point of view characters managed to actually get together but they just spent too much time thinking about wanting to be together for it to really be worth it.

Another thing this book suffers from is it's lack of a definable villain. The enemy is a big pharma company. In and of itself, that's not a problem and could probably be considered a strength, Big business in general, and pharmaceutical companies in general are hated by many and could constitute a major draw. The issue is that there is no individual person or group of people to focus our anger on. This book needs a recurring character in it somewhere that is highly placed and benefiting from what the company is doing. A CEO or major stockholder (or two or three or six) would add a lot. The Star Wars trilogy was made several times better because we all hated Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Overload Flux doesn't have that. I hate to put it this way, but this story needs an irredeemable bastard.

All in all, Overload Flux is a book that needs a major rewrite. The concept was awesome but it was poorly executed. There is a lot here but there just needs to be more happening and less internalizing. This book needs help.

Bottom Line: 2.5 out of 5 Defective Vaccines

Overload Flux
Carol Van Natta
Chavanch Press, 2014

Overload Flux is available for purchase here:

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