It would seem, my literary foodies, that the main answer to genre fatigue I see in the modern menus of the world is genre fusion. Mixing the ingredients of multiple genres can be fun and flavorful, but it can also be boring and nasty. In today’s recipe, we’ll see how well our chef tosses together romance, science-fiction, and contemporary thrillers. Which will The Planets All Shone be, tasty or tasteless?
Before we cut to the heart of the matter, let’s recite the Starving Review creed:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
We’ve sampled Chef Fleischer’s fare before and found it to be quite a tasty treat, so one should expect much of the same. Mixing a liberal dose of ‘ancient aliens’, modern conspiracies (a natural fit for the ancient aliens tropes), and a bit of romance, there’s an even mix of action, intrigue, and general weirdness to go around. Especially enjoyable are the sections where Fleischer focuses on the characters and their interactions.
You see, to buck the trend of your typical romance, the principle protagonist is NOT part of the romance subplot except as an awkward third wheel and occasional referee. The main characters all together have an interesting chemistry and I was invested in all of them. Unfortunately, there’re some hollow spots in this souffle that threaten to make the whole thing collapse.
The antagonists are paper-thin and the plot originally sets what seems like an enjoyable course until it abruptly jukes to one side and throws on the afterburners. What becomes set up as the major conflict is swiftly resolved at what feels like the height of the second course and suddenly the entire meal is wrapped up, with no third course and certainly no dessert!
All of these flaws come not from the writing quality, which matches what I expect from Fleischer’s previous work, but from the length of the piece. Planets is scarily short for the story it introduces and entire sections one would expect to be flavorfully fleshed out are rushed or skipped entirely. I have no clue why this is, whether Planets was confined to a very specific length or word count for some unknown reason, but it puts a sour note at the end of what could have been a wonderful meal.
To sum it all up, The Planets All Shone is a tasty sci-fi romance thriller cut too short by far! While there are some rather tasty bits to be had, it is a meal cut way too short to be truly enjoyable. Expect to have an empty feeling in your tummy after this one. If you think you can deal with that and want to enjoy the good bits to be had, it might be worth your time as its general quality outside of that is quite excellent. If you’re a stickler for being satisfied at the end of a book, you might want to skip this one.
FINAL VERDICT: *** (A tasty sci-fi romance thriller cut too short by far!)