Hello humans! Remember back when I reviewed Ascension earlier in the year? No? It was the book being marketed as ‘Love Island in Space’ – yeah that one. Well, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to read the sequel Distortion which comes out on the 18th of October. I had my reservations about the first book, but I thought that it set up some interesting ideas for a sequel so I dived in with both feet.
Spoiler alert for Ascension but none for Distortion
Six girls, six boys: looking for glory and romance on Mars
They thought they were masters of their destiny.
They are the twelve pioneers of the Genesis programme.
They thought they were taking part in the most extraordinary of missions.
In fact, they are the victims of the cruellest of plots.
Leonor was looking for glory – and love – on Mars.
She thought she would be able to open her heart there.
But what she has done is open up a Pandora’s box of her past …
One of my favourite kinds of stories to read are those of characters having to find a way to survive in a hostile alien environment, and that was the box that this book ticked for me. It tipped it from being a silly romance novel to having more elements of thriller and other science fiction stories in there. It makes the whole story more high stakes (not that the stakes weren’t high to begin with), the story felt better paced, the action more interesting and the characters more impactful than the first book. I always want a sequel to build on the first book, to exceed the standards set, and this did achieve this.
Not that the romance (silliness is probably subjective – I think it’s silly in a nice way) is gone, it’s still one of the grounding aspects of this story. At times it is hugely annoying, at times I found myself wondering how on earth these characters who were living on Mars had the time or mental energy to put thought into these relationship problems, but perhaps that’s just me. I think you have to embrace the fact that the premise of these books is romance-centric and then get on with enjoying the read.
One of the cleverest things about this book is the way that Victor Dixen exploits the delay in communications between Earth and Mars. At any given moment there is at least (if I recall correctly) a six-minute delay between something being said on Mars and hearing it on Earth. This could have been something that started out as an interesting or realistic detail but soon became a tiresome obstacle to plot development. Instead, it is used to help the plot, as well as helping the reader to visualise just how far away the two strands of this story happen to be. The fact that these characters on Mars are still largely controlled by the actions of a woman so far away is a powerful mental image.
As I predicted, this was a strong sequel, the actual plot (aside from the romances) gets so much more interesting, and the characters, whether heroes or villains, start to grow far more three dimensional. I was left wanting to read more, which is the greatest thing a sequel can do – at least in my opinion.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Are you going to read this sequel? Let me know in the comments below!