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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Debris Dreams by David Colby

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Debris Dreams
Author: David Colby
Format Acquired: eGalley 
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publishing House: Candlemark & Gleam
ISBN: 9781936460380
Source of Copy: NetGalley

Summary: 2068

1.5 million kilometers above the surface of the Earth.

Drusilla Xao has only seen a tree in movies and vid-games. She has never breathed air that wasn't recycled, re-filtered, and re-used a hundred times over again. She has never set foot on Earth.

And now she never will.

When a terrorist attack by a radical separatist group on Luna destroys the space elevator that had called so many - including her parents - to live permanently in space, Dru is cut off from any hope of ever reaching Earth and her beloved girlfriend, Sarah. The Chinese-American Alliance declares immediate war on the rebels and conscripts everyone they can get their hands on... including Dru.

Cast adrift, forced to become a soldier, trapped in a nightmare of vacuum and loneliness, Dru's training will help her survive, but only Sarah will be able to bring her home.

(Image, information, and summary from GoodReads)


What we expected from Debris Dreams was an action-packed thriller filled with intense combat scenes and a whole lot of emotional trauma, because the setting’s in a warzone and it’s nearly impossible to escape it unscathed without any emotional or psychological repercussions. What we got was a whole lot of information dumps, confusing world building, uninteresting characters, and a rather confusing flow of events.

The story is told in Dru's voice. She's a proclaimed lesbian living in space who has a girlfriend who lives on earth. She's obviously taking the whole long-distance relationship thing to a totally new level. It was hard to get a feel for her character and we initially thought that she was male. We felt that her character was bland and monotonous, that her emotions were unreal and fake. Her character was woefully underdeveloped and the way she adapted to the abrupt change in her lifestyle was unbelievable. Since this is a war, and it's quite sure that Dru will lose friends, where’s the emotional trauma that Dru should have felt with the loss of said friends? The pain? How is it possible that she recovers so easily from the loss of her friends and sometimes seems to forget that she's fighting an actual war and it's not all fun and games now? It was hard to take this character seriously.

Then there's Sarah, Dru's girlfriend, in the summary it is said, and I quote, "...but only Sarah will be able to bring her home." We did not find Sarah's character to be of any significance to this story, we could not understand what she was to Dru, aside from being her girlfriend. What did Sarah do to bring Dru home? Send her e-mails and racy pictures of herself? Sure, Sarah may be the symbolism of Dru's yearning to go to Earth, but we actually expected more from Sarah.

It's hard to get into a story where one cannot connect with the characters. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to us. We were indifferent towards Dru and her friends and whenever one of them is shot, injured or killed we could not muster up any sympathy for them.

A flaw in the story was that readers were not given an insight as to why Luna and Earth are fighting at all. There were only brief mentions of oppression on the side of Luna, and yeah, that's pretty much it.

We had issues with the characters using Mandarin Chinese along with the English command. (Other languages like Cantonese and Swahili were made us of less often, ergo less annoying.) Being Chinese-Filipinos, we pretty much had a gist of what Colby was referencing to, but other readers may not have the same experience. Even we found it annoying that they would speak in this manner. From the eGalley given to us, we didn't find any English translations that would make it convenient for the reader to at least follow on what Colby was trying to come across. There are words in Chinese that don't make much sense given the context, but this (we guess) could be excused as the copy we have did mention that the 'gramatically inaccurate mix of languages reflect the vernacular'. We still found this weird, because these were people who were early on type-casted as being part of the Chinese-American side. So, the characters can fluently cuss in Mandarin, but are kind of off in using actual Mandarin at times? Fair enough. 

Another point against it was the frequent mentions of sex. Bearing in mind that the main protagonist of this book is a lesbian and a self-admitting virgin engaged in an intergalactic war in freaking space where the opponents attack randomly and claim her friends one by one, Dru often thinks about how hot/sexy her seductive captain is, all the while admitting to her girlfriend on Earth that she is feeling hot and bothered - to which Sarah, the all-American saint that she is, has no qualms in giving her the signal to go for it. (Wow, Sarah. Really?Sometimes, Dru was more of a Drew. Monogamy is depicted as backward and prudish. Sex appears to be as trivial as a handshake, or as a high five. We are confused as well as either to allude this rampant obsession with sex to the fact that Dru is a lesbian - which would then trigger more issues as to how people perceive gay people - or because it is a sign of a life where people are in the middle between life and death, emotionless sex is the only equivalent of fun.

There were scenes in the book where Dru is almost automatically promoted, and these usually happened when she was either unconscious, bleeding and hurt, or when she betrayed the entire system she was working for. (What.

Sometimes, we think that Dru even forgets that she's in an actual war, especially when she finds out about the 'new' technology that her side of the army will adapt. Will this 'new' tech  introduce brutal killing? Yeah. Is it merciless? Sure. Are you or are you not engaged in war? Uhh... Yes, we're pretty sure you are.

This book was actually hard to read, given the weird flow of events and the quick dissemination of info-dump after info-dump was too much for us to handle.

We're sorry, Debris Dreams, but we're giving you a flat-out one.


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