2.5 Stars - Recommended lightly: Fans of sci-fi / nightmare / deus-ex-machina space stories
Audio Download (approx 3.5 hrs)
Publisher: Iambik / Apex Book Company
Now, I know I am not the only person who's ever picked up a book and been like "Ok, so this is totally not what I would typically read but man, the cover is kinda creepy and the story sounds kinda interesting so I'm going to give it a shot" only to turn around once you start getting into it and think "what in the holy hell have I gotten myself into this time?!"
Those were the thoughts that ran through my head as I listened to the Iambik version of Paul Jessup's Open Your Eyes - a self described "space opera". This short, dense story begins with a woman named Ekhi having sex with a star that suddenly goes supernova. Yes, that's right. She's having sex... with a star... you know, those little pinpricks of light in the sky at night?
She - now empregnated, floating naked and unconscious - and her ship are found some time later by a group of space scavengers. The scavenger ship is piloted by a captain, suspended in a container of sticky goo that feeds her visuals and sensations through small spider-like machines and sends out creepy dolls to do her bidding, and crewed by a very strange cast of characters indeed - including a woman with a half metal face and a violently jealous brute of Hulk-ish proportions. They, with Ekhi in tow, are driven deeper into space on a rescue mission of romantic proportions.
The mission isn't really what matters, though. The book is driven by the ebb and flow of the characters aboard the ship, and the ways in which they find themselves pulling each other together and suddenly tearing one another apart. Throw in some "pirate ships" run by odd elephant-headed space creatures, a weird brain virus that forces our crew members to carry others' consciousnesses around in their heads, and the fact that our scavenger ship appears to have a heart and agenda of its own ... and you're going to be one completely confused reader, like me.
The downfall of this novel, which sounds fun and unique in summary, is how much it attempts to do and in how few words it attempts to do it in. Time and time again, I found myself absolutely lost in the thick of things. Jessup, much like a tour guide who reminds its participants to keep up and remain close to one another at all times at the risk of being left behind, refuses to slow down and allow his readers to catch up to his lightening quick plot schemes and changes of scenery. There is no time to 'stop and smell the roses' because Jessup and his characters are off and running and will leave you standing there to suck in great lungfuls of their dust without a second thought. Jessup does not waste words on bringing his readers up to speed. You are either with him or not. You either "pick up what he's laying down" or you don't.
I think it also didn't help that I was listening to this (1) on audio and (2) that the audio was narrated by Tadgh Hydes, who I admittedly dislike as a reader. So to be fair, with one strike against it, it was already doomed before I even began.
So here's the rub, right? Since I didn't read it in print and had it read to me by a narrator I don't care for, I am not 100% comfortable recommending this book, which is why I gave it a very 'light' rating. I would certainly not recommend the audio version - not through any real fault of Iambik. The recording was clean, I just don't think the reader matched the story.
Interested in checking it out in print and giving me your opinion on it? You can read the book in its entirety through the goodreads book page. How can you argue with that? A free read of a book that I just didn't dig, and a chance for you to yay or nay my review of it? Go on... do it. What do you have to lose...