ARC review: Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
Series: Die Salvation #1
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher (via Netgalley)

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation–including starships–virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful…until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy…

Bursting with tension and big ideas, this standalone series highlights the inventiveness of an author at the top of his game, as the interweaving story lines tell us not only how humanity arrived at this moment, but also the far-future consequences that spin off from it.

Alright, I’ve been putting off writing this review for a couple days, but I think that I finally need to just do it. It’s hard because, while I wanted to love this book, I just didn’t. I might think that something’s wrong with me — after all, I haven’t enjoyed most of what I’ve read recently — if I wasn’t 100% in love with a book I’m currently beta reading. But anyway.

I would consider myself a fan of Peter F. Hamilton. I’ve previously read both the Void trilogy and The Abyss Beyond Dreams, which are set in his Commonwealth universe. I honestly adored both and was fully expecting to have the same feelings about Salvation. Maybe I wasn’t in a sci-fi mood, or maybe I just wasn’t in a Salvation mood, but as much as I wanted to like this book, it really fell flat for me. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t really feel much of anything for it.

As usual for Hamilton’s books, we’re all over the place. The book takes place over many years, over many continents and planets, and involves a whole lot of people. And also, as usual, everything is connected. The problem is that I never really felt any connection to any of the characters. I also felt that the book was unnecessarily long and ended up skimming a lot of the chapters.

I know that this review sounds pretty negative for a book that I gave three stars, so I feel like I should say again that I didn’t actually dislike this book. I think that people who read a lot of sci-fi would probably enjoy it. It’s a slow start to a new universe, but given what I know about Hamilton’s writing, I’m sure that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Have you read Salvation? Are you a fan of Peter F. Hamilton?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Let me preface this review by saying that you should not believe anybody who tries to tell you that The Abyss Beyond Dreams is a standalone novel. While yes, I suppose that you could read it without any prior knowledge of the Commonwealth or Void, I can’t imagine that you would enjoy it very much. Once I received the notification that I’d won a free advance copy of the novel (thanks, Netgalley!), I went back and borrowed the Void trilogy from my boyfriend for a little background information. (Just a little, at nearly 2000 pages.) As I said in my reviews of those three books, I probably should have gone further back and read the Commonwealth books for an even stronger foundation. Hamilton really does weave together a lot of elements from his previous works.

In The Abyss Beyond Dreams, Nigel Sheldon, the infamous founder of the Commonwealth, is asked by the Raiel to enter the Void and search for lost ships. Upon his entry, he finds himself on Bienvenido, which is both similar to and different from Querencia, the part of the Void that we came to know in Hamilton’s previous books. In Bienvenido, telekenesis is still possible. Animals can be modified to assist with everyday tasks. But while Querencia’s citizens lead relatively safe lives, concerned mainly with political rivals, Bienvenido’s residents must deal with Fallers crashing down from the sky.

Fallers are enormous eggs that can absorb and morph into both humans and large animals. The Fallers then lure in unsuspecting humans, creating well-hidden nests within cities. Oh, and they’re also cannibals. So far, Bienvenido has been fairly lucky in resisting the Fallers, but there have been a few nests discovered, and a few close calls. Lieutenant Slvasta is one of the new humans lucky enough to escape a Fall – a team of Marines found him in time, and he only lost an arm, though he did have to watch his best friend be consumed by an egg. Now Slvasta is consumed by a desire to end Fallers, and his dedication helps him quickly move up the ranks… until his supervisors no longer approve of his actions and he’s put into an administrative position in the capital.

Meanwhile, Nigel takes a young woman named Kysandra under his wing as he researches the Void. Nigel and his ANAdroids rebuild Kysandra’s family farm (and her life) as he attempts to find a way to make Commonwealth machinery work inside the Void, which notoriously messes with any and all technology. In the process of studying the Void, Nigel is mistaken for a Faller by Slvasta, and their paths intertwine on many occasions.

I did really enjoy this book, and I think I devoured it faster than any of Hamilton’s other novels. Nigel’s sections were my favorite, as I found Slvasta’s to sometimes drag and be repetitive. (This is my only qualm with the book.) I liked that the Void was so similar to what Hamilton had written in his previous books, but also so different, in both the language and the society. What residents of Querencia call a “third hand,” Bienvenido refers to as “teekay.” Those sculptable eggs are known in Querencia as “default genistars,” but in Bienvenido, they’re “neuts.” “Longtalk” becomes “‘path.” Even that dark red nebula that everyone’s so afraid of ending up in has a different name – Querencia’s “Honious” is Bienvenido’s “Uracus.” And while Querencia lives in a fairly simple society (albeit with complex politics), Bienvenido seems much more advanced. Even with all the changes, the Void is still recognizable.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams includes many twists and turns, including one pretty big one at the end. I was satisfied with the ending of the novel, but I’ll be happy once the second installment comes out!

Final rating: 

My review for Peter F. Hamilton’s The Abyss Beyond Dreams will go up on its release date, this coming Tuesday.

If you’re looking to score your own copy, Goodreads has five audio copies available through 10/21!

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When I first started The Dreaming Void, I wondered how any author, regardless of the level of skill or amount of talent, could possibly pull off a story like this.

There was so much going on – so many characters, so many plots – that I could barely keep it all straight in my mind. I couldn’t remember who Aaron was, or who Troblum was, what relevance there was to Justine and the Burnellis, how any of these characters could possibly be connected. My poor brain was swamped.

I didn’t believe that anybody could make this work, but I pressed on. (Mostly because I have an ARC of The Abyss Beyond Dreams sitting on my coffee table waiting for me, but still. I pressed on.)

It took awhile, but I finished The Dreaming Void. It was pretty good. Then I read The Temporal Void. I finally knew who all the characters were, so I enjoyed it a bit more. Then came this book,The Evolutionary Void.

Everything came together. Everything made sense. Every question I had was answered. I can’t even say anything about what happens in this book without spoiling the whole trilogy, but please believe me – it’s worth it. All 2000 or so pages. 

It’s worth it.

Final rating: 

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It’s so hard to say anything about The Temporal Void without letting out major spoilers. Even discussing basic plot points reveals what happened at the end of The Dreaming Void. I’m going to do my best to give a brief, spoiler-free summary – I don’t want to ruin it for anybody who might accidentally stumble across my review.

In the Commonwealth side of The Temporal Void, the factions begin fighting over who will first acquire the newly-identified Second Dreamer – who continues to elude them. Meanwhile, the Raiel guard the Void, unrelenting in their vow not to allow the Pilgrimage, and Aaron and Corrie-Lyn embark on a quest to determine whether Inigo is still alive, and whether he’ll have any influence over the impending Pilgrimage. Within the Void, the full extent of Edeard’s psychic powers becomes apparent.

I enjoyed The Temporal Void a little more than The Dreaming Void, mostly because I finally understood who the many characters were and how they’re all connected, but also because Edeard is a much more prominent character, and, in this installment at least, I found his story a lot more intriguing than everybody else’s. While I’m nowhere near as confused as I was during The Dreaming Void, I do still wonder whether I’d more fully appreciate the story if I’d read the Commonwealth series.

Overall, The Temporal Void is an excellent book. I’m already well into The Evolutionary Void, which I’m hoping to finish within the next few days – and then I’ll finally be able to read The Abyss Beyond Dreams.

Final rating: