I got this book through the Early Reviewers program of LybraryThing, and here is my review.
What's the book about?
This is the second installment of the Archives of Varok, by the same author. It's settled in a alternate 21st century where the Earth has gone in override with environmental and economical excess and we have found that one of Jupiter's moons, Varok, is inhabited by species physically different from us but with a lot to teach us on how we should take care of our planet and each Other. Tandra Grey a human, has decided to leave Earth with her new family, composed by a Varok named Orram and and Elll named Conn as well as an adopted daughter. When arriving to Varok, their new home, they realize that something is off with the planet and will have to figure out what it is in order not only to save it but also to save their new family.
What was different of this book?
I've never read a book with such a strong and blunt environmental message. That said...I have a problem with a book that keeps using "germs" as a term to refer to any type of pathogen. Is it the scientist in me? Maybe. But "germs" to me is the same as say "a thingy" instead of calling something by its proper name. Just saying.
What about the main character?
To be completely honest, I'm not 100% sure who was the main character, both Tandra and Conn have big parts, but so does Orram and Mahntik. I think they were all very complex characters, well constructed. However, none of them gave me any feeling of empathy or connection. Tandra is the first-person narrator of portions of The Webs of Varok, like her voyage to Varok with her other family members. Other parts, like when we read about Mahntik conspiring with Gitahl, are in the third-person, and that for me made it even harder to "adopt" a character.
The 10% moment
It took me an awful lot of time to read this book and that also applies to getting to the 10%. I wasn't caught in the story I'm afraid. I don't know if it was due to me not reading the first book, but every review I saw said that it was ok if you didn't. There was something missing for me to fall for the characters.
The message is very nice, very well delivered. An interesting dissertation if you may on how bad monopolies can be, how abusing the environment can have catastrophic consequences for everyone. The book is beautifully written with enough details for you to picture the varokian environment. The intrigue...well, it was sort off there but there was no climax for me, and the conclusion was weak, in my opinion. I was expecting more development on Mahntik's abilities as well as the struggle of Tara to adapting to a new home. I can see the potential in this book, but it was just not for me.
I am hesitant as to consider this book as Science Fiction since I didn't really see any science part developed. Sure there is the threat of the (ugh) new strains of germs being released as a bioweapon...but I wished there was more about this strains, what do they do, how were they developed. Not a comprehensive text book description, but something more. I almost feel tempted to put it under Fantasy more than SciFi if one might need to choose a genre.
Because of all these reasons I gave this a 2/5, it was a good book, but not a good book for me.