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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Starcraft: Spectres - Nate Kenyon, Nate Kenyon I'm a gamer, but I've never played Starcraft. Nevertheless, I found the story line accessible. Despite its origins, Spectres makes a reasonable attempt at character development, delving both into the protagonist(s)' internal and external conflicts.

Nova Terra is a Ghost, a special operative for the Dominion, highly trained and with psionically enhanced abilities. When another Ghost, Kath Toom, and a Ghost Wrangler (basically, a kind of Ghost handler) go missing on the dismal planet of Oasis, it's up to Terra to find out what happened. On Oasis, she discovers an invasion of the insect-like zerg. The aliens appear to be drawn to the planet by the presence of a mysterious green gas. The gas, terrazine, brings out and amplifies psionic powers. Nova finds the wrangler, Mal, but there is no trace of the missing Ghost. In the process, Nova is exposed to the gas, and starts remembering her past; not a good thing, especially for Terra, who willingly joined the Ghosts because she knew her mind would be wiped after every mission.

As her memories return and she learns more about the missing Ghosts--Kath Toom isn't the first to disappear--Nova uncovers truths that will challenge her loyalty to the Dominion and the Emperor.

For a game tie-in, Spectres isn't bad. But it isn't great, either. In fact, I find this review difficult to write because it was so .... vanilla. Well, vanilla isn't right either, because good vanilla is delightful. Spectres starts out strong, but ultimately is burdened with too many character POVs, and the primary character relationship--Nova's kind-of/sort-of attraction to Mal--is poorly drawn and feels like an artifice. There are a few good action scenes, but I just didn't empathize with the characters enough to care what happened to them. It's not that the narrative didn't try to explore emotional reactions; but there was something flat about the internal dialogue. I'm inclined to think the story might have been better off taking a straight "shoot 'em up" approach. As a character-driven reader and writer, I usually need some degree of character identification to enjoy a story, but this may have been a case where it wasn't needed. The attempts at angst in a story that should have been been pure action, felt contrived and at times slowed the narrative down to a crawl.

A mildly entertaining trip into a gaming universe.