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Book Review: Kenai

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A planet steeped in mystery…Jess Amiko is long past her days as a space marine, with all the glory of that time tarnished beyond repair by what came after. Trying to rebuild from the ashes, she’s taken a job as a security guard on Kenai, a lonely world far from the Council systems. It’s supposed to be easy duty – quiet and peaceful, on a docile world with no real threats, watching over an archeological dig at a site built by a race long vanished. Betrayed and attacked by forces unknown, and finding that nothing on Kenai makes sense, Jess is plunged into a desperate fight for survival that leads her deep into the mysteries of Kenai’s past, and deep into the hardship and paradox the planet imposes on all who call it home. Content military-style violence.”

Title: Kenai

Series: Standalone

Author: Dave Dobson

Page Count: 395

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Date Read: December 17th, 2023

My fifth full read from the SPSFC-3 entries for Team Peripheral Prospectors was Kenai by Dave Dobson. Our team has been steadily narrowing down our assigned books. This has not been easy at times. Our team initially split our overall list in half for our initial samples. Kenai was one that fell into the other half of our team but got some positive feedback early so I wanted to dive into it as my next full read. I was surprised but not disappointed. As always please keep in mind that this review and my rating belong to me along and do not represent our team’s overall score for the competition.
 
The pacing was interesting. I felt overall the writing style along with names and verbiage were smooth. Without giving to much away in spoilers though I will say things started to get very interesting along the timeline as things progressed. I would definitely call this read a bit of a mind bender as you try and keep up and wrap your head around events. I will say that I didn’t find myself having to pause and contemplate these moments very often which to me does say something regarding Dave Dobson’s writing style. As complex as this story could be, it seemed to fit my reading style well.
 
The world building was strong for me. As with many science fiction stories we have some time spent both planet and space side. The majority of this story does take place on land though. With that being said this book spends a considerable amount of time getting us comfortable with the world of Kenai itself with a sprinkle of Humanity history and current state along the way. Kenai itself seems like a very interesting planet with what appears to be two major factions or cultures that have very different outlooks on how life should exist and progress. As for the human side of things we have a few different cultures and times to learn about in this one but I felt it was handled fairly well.
 
The character development may take some twists and turns along the way with this one but overall it was an entertaining adventure along the way with what I’d consider our two protagonists and several supporting characters. The story starts with our characters basically in the present time and there are some flashback moments to get us to understand where Jess has been to make her who she is and then a similar type of situation in a different way for our other character.
 
This read certainly has some trippy moments but I think it’s relatively easy to follow along if you’re paying attention even slightly. It was the bind bending aspect that set this one apart from the other reads I’ve experienced in this competition so far.
 
There is also a couple of nice features in the back of the book which the author mentions at the very beginning to let the reader decide if they want everything revealed along the way (the path I chose) or if you’d like a bit of history lesson on what has happened with humanity before diving into the deep end.
 
I also wasn’t aware the author had another previous SPSFC submission that received some positive feedback. Even though this one is a standalone I believe there are more plans to continue writing stories within this universe. I’ll have to look up Daros and give it a go too.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Character Development 5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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