Saturday, February 17, 2018

Michelle Diener - Dark Minds

Imogen Peters knows she's a pawn. She's been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.
Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he'd be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she's not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.
Imogen's out of her depth in this crazy mind game playing out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she's good at mind games. She's been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…

Comment: This is the third and final installment in the Class 5 trilogy series by author Michelle Diener. Following the captivating worlds presented in the first books, this is the last adventure of women kidnapped from Earth and taken to galaxies too far away and no longer having the possibility to return. 

In this third story we finally meet Imogen Peters, the other human woman characters from the previous book have talked about. When this book begins we finally get to know what happened to her since her presence was proved.
Imogen was kidnapped, she hasn't been treated too badly as the other women but when a Krik ship (not the best guys out there) gets to the ship where she's in, things turn to the worse. But as one would expect by now, a Class 5 ship commanded by a IA rescues her so she can help him.
Captain Camlar Kalor thought he would get Fiona Russell, heroine from the previous book, and not a different woman altogether. After some difficult maneuvers he and Imogen stay alone on board of the Class 5 and start talking. But there's a plot to cover some unethical deeds, another to get the upper hand on the galaxy's politics and at the end, can our heroine feel she has found a place to stay after all?

It's truly fascinating to follow up the author's imagination when it comes to so much technical content. Of course some things are just make-believe but the way the sequences are structured, the way the scenes are played with so many details really proves the author was inspired to create a whole world based on details.

However, from simply the POV of a reader interested in the plot as a whole, I must say it's quite important to read the books in order, no matter how self-worthy each one is. Some scenes and character's decisions make better sense if one has the information to back it up and without reading the other books things are still understandable but not as enriching to the overall reading.

I liked Imogen's attitude, I liked her as a character and her adventures, her developing relationship with Camlar... but I feel we haven't really "connected" to her human side. 
I feel the biggest let down of these novels and why I don't grade them higher, is the fact the emotional content is so poorly explored. On one hand it's good the kidnapped women don't cry all the time or feel down without any reaction like I'm sure I would if such a thing ever happened to me, but at the same time they seemed to have adapted too quickly.
Then, because the plots revolve mostly about  politics and the alien races dealing with that and also with the tasks ahead, I feel there wasn't much air time dedicated to the women's reactions about new settings and even less about their real feelings. Yes, they say this and that but it's all superficial.

I know I'm being repetitive but like in the previous book I miss the social interactions that would have given these romances a higher quality, if I can use this word. They are accepted or not. But I wanted customs to be included, I wanted them living and dealing with the alien reality socially, not just being the heroines in ships. 
I guess this is why the first book felt better for me, there was a bit more of social interactions and talks about the future and how the heroine could be integrated. In the other two it almost felt like a given. And I know this is to be expected but I wanted a story on that.

The stories are well done, well structured, elaborated, they have many details I wouldn't imagine but in writing they feel important but I expected more on the emotional side, both from the women facing a new reality, not being able to go back to Earth...and also on the heroes that bond with them, I feel we haven't really gotten to know any of them apart from basic information and the knowledge they are happy together.
The end of this third book definitely point out for that scenario but I kind of wanted more.
Grade: 7/10

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