I enjoy science fiction, but I especially love space opera! Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Farscape, BSG, Andromeda, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, EVE Online etc. these are some of my favorite stories of all time which I have watched over, and over again! I have been trying to find good novels that tell these kinds of epic stories, but haven’t had much luck yet. So when I read good reviews on this I picked it up, and really wanted to like this book. Parts of it I did, but overall I was left disappointed.
Let me start with what I did like, and go from there. It’s a long book, about 1100 pages or so. I know a lot of people do not like long books like this, but being mostly a fantasy reader I quite enjoy a longer story. If it is good. Which for the most part this was. I’d say once I got past the first 400 pages or so it got really good. And of course it was full of space battles, exotic worlds, aliens, tech, an iconic ship, and roguish captain to fly it. All good stuff.
In the end two things ruined The Reality Dysfunction for me. First was the said roguish captain, and the story’s hero. It was obvious that Hamilton was going for Han Solo which I’m totally okay with. In fact I’d be a little disappointed if there wasn’t a Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds character in a space opera.
The problem for me was that instead of this he wrote James T. Kirk. And not just any Kirk, but the idea of Kirk that only he has of himself. I mean literally every female character with a name, and some without, immediately want to sleep with him when he walks into the room. Off the top of my head I can only think of two women important enough to be named that lay eyes on him, and don’t sleep with him.
If that wasn’t enough every male character seems to have, or quickly develop a full on hero worship of this young captain. At some point nearly every character seems to think to themselves that this Captain Kirk is the best shit ever. Then to top it off they make a point of telling him this shortly after thinking it. It is all just too much.
As annoying as Captain Kirk was I could have lived with it. What I couldn’t overlook was all the unnecessary rape. It seemed like in every other chapter for the first 400 pages a particular low level bad guy was raping another person. Men, women, and children. Some of it was just implied, but all of it was pointless. None of it added anything to the story. As far as I could tell this character simply loved to rape people so he did.
There are stories where these things happen, and we are forced to see the pain, and horror of this crime inflicted on another person. We see their emotional journey as they struggle to come to terms with it, and move beyond it if possible. We even see the evil lurking inside our fellow man etc. There was none of that here. The more I read the more I was disgusted. I stopped reading multiple times, and very nearly didn’t pick it back up again.
It does clear up after about 400 pages, and the story finally starts taking off now that we aren’t constantly raping people. It gets good, and becomes compelling. Then just as I tell myself I’ll pick up the next book in the series the last 100 pages begins to revert back to the first 400!
So I guess in conclusion about 600 pages of this book was good. 3 or even 4 stars. The other 500 pages not so much. I definitely won’t be reading this again. Taking the good with the bad I wouldn’t have read it the first time knowing what I do now.
My Rating: ☆☆