Warning: Evolution of FORCE by Sam B. Miller II contains violent scenes, some of which are also graphic and gruesome. There also suggestions of sex scenes and sexual innuendo. If you have a weak stomach or otherwise wish to avoid references to violence and sex, proceed with caution.
Spoiler Warning: This review covers the third and final book in The Origin of FORCE trilogy, Evolution of FORCE. If you have not read the first two books, be advised that this review contains spoilers for the entire trilogy.
TGIF, readers and writers! This week I’m shaking things up a bit by starting Friday Fun-Day with a book review rather than a writing prompt, quote, or contest. I’ve taken you through the series behind this particular review for a few weeks, and today I’m bringing you the third and final book of The Origin of FORCE trilogy, Evolution of FORCE by Sam B. Miller II.
When we last left FORCE and its allies, Yuri-Milost had betrayed Whatsit, Becky, Doug, Miguel, and Dr. GooYee, leaving them stranded on the war-torn surface of Chrysalis. Yuri-Milost escaped justice at the hands of the remaining FORCE team, but Whatsit and his shipmates struck some luck when the Chrysallaman Underground advisor Cherree rescued them from the Asiddian torture chamber.
Evolution of FORCE picks up where Dawn of Chrysalis left off, with Whatsit and company fleeing the Asiddians for the catacombs under Chrysalis and the rest of FORCE planning a rescue/revenge scheme back on Earth. While Whatsit, Becky, and Doug help the Chrysallaman Underground steal supplies and take on Asiddian commandos, Tom rounds up humans anxious to help their teammates and Chrysallamans longing to save their home planet. Heinbaum and Longarrow also busy themselves with technological leaps which not even McPherson knows about.
What unfolds over the following 300+ pages are action, deceit, leaps in technological and social advances, and an enemy which only the most discerning reader could foresee. Fans of gripping, traditional science fiction with a twist won’t want to miss the exciting wrap-up to this trilogy.
I can say that, by this book, Miller has pretty well worn down my hesitation towards alien invasion stories. As with the first two books, Miller has put a lot of research, attention to detail, and creative energy into Evolution of FORCE. Even with all the details about the new technology and alien societies, the book never loses sight of the plot and character development, which is both key to good science fiction and hard to accomplish. I admit that the names of many of the Asiddians are too on-the-nose considering they’re a bird-like species. I also could have done without backgrounds for characters who only appear long enough to die, but these issues are relatively minor.
The development of the inter-species relationships, particularly the Princess Peregrine/Miguel romance, and the entire range of budding romantic relationships add a personal dimension to the story. However, as in the first two books, my favorite dynamic is still between Heinbaum and McPherson. They are still the bickering, comedic duo we’ve grown to love—with GooYee now thrown in the mix—but Evolution of FORCE reinforces their emotional foundation. I rooted for all of the main characters to survive the battle, but I became most invested in Heinbaum and McPherson and desperately hoped for both to make it to the end.
While the mix of action and emotional strain enhanced the story, I found the pacing to often be uneven. Miller has a tendency to restate observations made in the previous books about returning characters, which causes excessive exposition and description that slow down the narrative. This problem is particularly prominent during the first few chapters. On the flip side, the final chapter feels far too rushed. I think that Miller could’ve spent a few more pages of description and action to draw out the tension as well as wrap up some elements without so much exposition in the characters’ dialogue.
These issues aside, the story becomes so engaging that the read is quicker than one would expect based on the length of the book. Multiple plot twists and new story elements kept me wondering what would happen next and how the trilogy would end, making it very hard to set the e-book aside until I finished reading. Sometimes the number of new elements confused and disoriented me, but that effect only fueled my desire to learn what happened next.
Unfortunately, there are many more proofreading errors in this book than the first two. I discovered many places where Miller uses a semicolon when he needs a comma, missing words and quotation marks, and other improper punctuation. Perhaps the most confusing and tedious for me is the inconsistency in the spelling of Princess Peregrine’s first name. Sometimes it spelled “Caroline” and other times “Carolyn”. The same inconsistency occurs in Dawn of Chrysalis but is more noticeable in Evolution of FORCE. These errors don’t detract from the overall quality of the book; they are just more prominent and, therefore, more distracting.
Overall, I think this book is a fitting end to a great trilogy. It ties up the loose ends quite nicely while still leaving room for Miller to return to this world. In fact, I’m counting on him deciding to expand FORCE’s operations and explore the reconstruction of human and Chrysallaman societies. I also hope that his note at the end, while promising stories that are different from this trilogy, indicates that Miller is not entirely through with Whatsit, Tom, and the rest of FORCE.
To read Evolution of FORCE and the other books in The Origin of FORCE trilogy, follow this link to Amazon. To follow the author on social media, check out @SamBMillerII on Twitter.
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