Title: When the Children Return. Book 2
Author: Barry Kirwan
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: 21st October 2021
Genre: Cyber Punk Sci-Fi
Comment: I was gifted a free copy from Rachels random resources and the author and I offer a voluntary review without being coerced by an AI with dubious intentions.
Review for Book 1- When the Children Come
Although actually, I would like to thank John, my heroic sidekick, for writing this review.
Ten years ago, Sally had her world ripped away from her, and now she is taking it back.
A decade ago, ten-year-old Sally watched helplessly as the brutal Axleth invaded Earth. She and a few hundred others escaped aboard the spaceship Athena. Piloted by the secretive Artificial Intelligence, who calls himself Ares. Now, as they approach Earth, she leads her fearless band of refugees determined to take back their home at any cost.
But much has changed on Earth. Finding allies willing to rise up against the Axleth stranglehold will be difficult. And as they near the Solar System, the Athena is tracked and attacked by an enemy ship. Something has followed them from the depths of space.
As war erupts on Earth, Sally’s small army must show more courage than they knew they possessed. Sally must come to terms with what it truly means to be a battle commander and decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to win back her planet.
I have been quite sick recently and not in any mood to either read or write. Suffering from extreme exhaustion and the inability to concentrate means I haven’t been able to do any tours and the ones I have agreed to have been a struggle. In that vein, I gave my guest reviewer, John, the opportunity to read this and he loved it. He’s written a fantastic review which appears below (sarcasm added by me)
REVIEW by John
First off, I have to commend the brilliant cover artwork. Suman Chakraborty should receive high praise for its phenomenal design. Also, glancing at the back cover, there is a stunning quote, “Is the enemy of your enemy really your friend?”. Set up the book rather nicely, I thought.
When The Children Return is a sequel and I strongly suggest you read the first book in the series. Partly to catch up on background information but also because it’s an excellent read.
The sequel is set a decade after the initial events took place. We meet up with an older and much wiser Sally and the indomitable spirited Nathan. The Artificial Intelligence, who calls himself Ares, is still the main focus of interest. He, for want of a better pronoun, is as enigmatic and as secretive as ever.
When The Children Return has a much darker tone, especially in regards to its stance on morality. The ‘Children’ mentioned in the title are now grown up and many have taken the odd decision to have children of their own. Bearing in mind the horrific and traumatic experience they had as children themselves, it does make you wonder why they want to return to an Earth which might put them in the situation of having history repeat itself.
Not sure I would want to head back to a planet that might make me kill my own child. (Unless my child was this guy.)
The action comes thick and fast. As do the thrills and spills. When allies are sought, things become extremely problematic and complicated for Nathan, Sally, Michael et al. It certainly ramps up the tension several notches.
I was particularly impressed with the balance of things in this book. The descriptions of battles and fight scenes are vivid without being a gorefest. There is some colourful language but not overly much. As with most Space-Faring Sci-Fi, there is plenty of tech-speak, but it is not too over the top. It’s very well proportioned.
Ares would have to be my favourite character (if ‘character’ is the correct term for Artificial Intelligence). Despite the fair or unfair, depending on your view, moniker of ‘the God of War’, I actually think Ares is the star of the show.
The narrative is adventurous and thoroughly absorbing. The characters are realistic and relatively likeable in most cases. (I am talking about those on the friendly side.) There is room for more depth and development from the leading protagonists, and I do not think it is a giveaway to say that this will not be the last we see of them or their offspring.
There are certain similar parallels that can be drawn from other Sci-Fi novels and movies, but I won’t mention them here, and perhaps it is just me.
The author should be given great credit for orchestrating such a gripping and thrilling sequel. I do not think that I am overstating the fact that this will be a big hit with young adults and adults alike. When The Children Return is an excellent and thoroughly entertaining read and worthy of the genre.
All in all, I would give ‘When The Children Return’ a 4 – 4.5 rating.
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099GSNK9H
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B099GSNK9H
Author Bio – I grew up in Farnborough, England, home to the fast-jet Red Arrows, and started writing when still at school, a weekly satirical thriller called the Adventures of Blackie the Cat for my classmates. I then got hooked on academic writing for my day job (preventing disasters in nuclear power plants, oil rigs and aircraft) and published four text books on human error. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris that I started writing fiction again, with the Eden Paradox released in 2011. It was intended to be a one-off, but I got a lot of fans demanding more, and so it went ‘epic’, a space opera of four books.
After an accident with my back and two subsequent operations, I was laid up for a long while and couldn’t scuba dive – my other passion – so I wrote a thriller about a spy who was also a scuba diver, and the Nadia Laksheva series was (to my amazement at the time) snapped up by HarperCollins. They asked me to use a pseudonym, which is where the initials J F came from, borrowed from my late father, who loved thrillers.
Although I keep my work and fiction separate (some of my colleagues aren’t convinced) the fiction is always influenced by my psychological training, and an unending fascination with how the mind works, and how it can go off the rails. This most clearly comes out in my two new series, Greg Adams (The Dead Tell Lies) and Children of the Eye (When the Children Come).
My favourite scifi authors range from Asimov and Clarke, to Brin, McDevitt, Hamilton, Asher and Reynolds. My favourite thriller writers are Baldacci, Child and Nesbo. My favourite moment as an author is when I’m sitting with my laptop with an espresso macchiato, wondering what comes next in a story, when suddenly it arrives, and I can’t type fast enough.
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