Title: Killer Domes and the Chosen One
Author: Gibbo Gibbs
Publication date: July 5, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Summary: Maz is a brilliant designer and clearly meant for more. She yearns for more beyond what her dome has to offer. While meeting with her best friend Hap in a seldom used garden, she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime to see what lies beyond the dome. Mitch is determined to save the people of his own dome, who are slowly being held hostage while their dome leader seems to be going mad. But Mitch needs help, which comes in the form of Maz and Hap as they can seek the information Mitch needs to save his people.
This has a bit of a quirky title and the book description (not the one above) made it seem like there was a grand adventure within its pages. I thought it might be a fun, quick read. While it was quick, it wasn’t quite fun. Instead, I found myself to be entirely disengaged from the story and the characters.
There are 3 main characters: Maz, Hap, and Mitch, though I’d argue Hap is more of a secondary character. Still, much of the story is told by one of these three. In general, they all seemed a bit too childish, generally rude, and rather mean to each other and everyone else.
Maz annoyed me. I thought she might hold an intelligent, inquisitive mind, but, when plans didn’t fall the way she expected or wanted, she retreated to the safety of her own world and life. Her sense of self-importance was a complete turn off to me. Her dismissal and seemingly derisive terms for the other people in her dome were off-putting. Simply put, she was not a likable character, and one I couldn’t identify with in any way. Self-important teenager with a God complex?
Hap, Maz’s best friend, felt more like a sidekick, but he was the most interesting and fun character. I actually liked Hap quite a bit, though his puppy dog following of Maz wasn’t something I understood at all. Throughout the novel, she isn’t particularly nice to him, yet he still wants to hang out with her and seems to like her. I’m annoyed that I couldn’t figure out why.
Mitch is the titular chosen one. He was a horrible, horrible man, though. I suppose if you enjoy the antithesis of a hero, this guy is right up your alley. He was rude and mean and prone to outbursts when things didn’t go his way. I did like that he was willing to do everything necessary to free his people, but his self-righteousness was irritating, overdone, and made him the worst chosen one I’ve ever read about.
The World Building
This is a dystopian science fiction novel. It takes place on Earth in the distant future where the Elite have fled Earth, leaving behind a chosen few to live in domes, or out in the wild. Unfortunately, I have no idea how long ago that started, so it was impossible to tell what generation number currently resided in the dome. However, it was easy to visualize, and actually seemed like quite a beautiful place to live.
As interesting as the world sounded, though, it lacked an anchor. By that, I mean there wasn’t any real history to anything. It just was. Most of the world was described as it presently was and not how history shaped it. I didn’t understand how the world came to be. A bit of background was provided (the Elite leaving), but not enough to really flesh out the world. The people of the domes use something called Canvas to make various kinds of designs, but I still have no real idea what it is, what it’s purpose is, and why it even exists. The end gives a possible reason, but it’s not expanded beyond that.
This novel does provide an actual functional world. It does work. It is interesting. It just lacks depth. It’s more of a bare bones kind of world where the reader is given the bare minimum to believe it might be real, but not enough to feel immersed.
I honestly spent much of the book wondering what the purpose of the story was. Or, more exactly, what purpose the characters had in the story. I know what the book is supposed to be about, but I don’t feel like I really know what it’s about. Is it supposed to be about two friends (Maz and Hap) seeking an adventure? There wasn’t much to their adventure. Or is it about saving mankind from the domes (Mitch’s mission)? If so, why are the domes killer domes? The lack of world building makes this completely unclear. Perhaps you could argue it’s a combination, and it probably is, of two friends seeking adventure and finding it and then having to help save a bunch of people. But why did they want to save the people? So Mitch could be a savior figure? See, I don’t know the motivations of the characters, so this felt like a simplistic, plot-driven book that needed to be populated by people.
I experienced no emotional involvement or connection to the characters and story. I didn’t care whether Maz and Hap found their adventure or if Mitch managed to save his people. This isn’t a unique story and scenes from The Matrix kept flashing through my mind. They’re not entirely the same, but the concept of people living in domes and trying to break free isn’t new, and this rendition doesn’t add anything to that repertoire. Instead, it was lackluster with a focus more on plot than character development. Each plot point was hit, but the journey from A to B lacked development and a good why behind it. There was also a strange lack of tension. I didn’t feel tense at all while reading it. I just read it quickly because it was a quick read and because I just really wanted to get to the end.
Ah, the end. That was interesting. There was some excitement there, but it was a bit strange. Scenes switched with cinematic frequency, providing brief clips that you might see in a movie at the climax. It was amusing, but not really something I enjoy in a book. I like to savor scenes, not be quickly moved from one to the next and not get any real depth or resolution to it. But if you enjoy books with cinematic qualities, this might be interesting.
I hate to say it, but it felt like a novice wrote this. On the other hand, it could also just be an author playing around with writing rules. If it’s the latter, the author definitely achieved something different, but I can’t say I was a fan.
Onomatopoeia was definitely put to use in this book. It was littered with things like NOK NOK and WHOOSH. It was kind of like reading a movie instead of watching it. I suppose it was interesting, but it wasn’t really descriptive and made it feel cold and distant. There was no feeling behind it, nothing like, “He rapt urgently on the door.” It’s one thing that made me feel disengaged from the book.
The point of view was all over the place. It was written in 3rd person omniscient, but wasn’t done particularly well. It switched between characters within paragraphs and between scenes without breaks. It was a little hard to follow at times.
As much as the writing irritated me, it was surprisingly readable. Now, it wasn’t without spelling and grammatical mistakes, but it was easy to bypass them and not get hung up on every error. It was also done consistently, so, by the end of the book, reading was kind of a breeze.
Overall, this is easy to read and is the bare bones of a story so, if long meandering books aren’t your cup of tea, this gives you the story straight up. However, it does read like a first draft that has gone through a bit of editing, but is still far from polished. I got the feeling the focus was more on the story, which moved forward at a very nice pace. But it lacked flesh with lackluster world building that left too many questions and had characters I found more annoying and mean than endearing. If you’re looking for something different, something with a cinematic quality, perhaps you can appreciate this book. Unfortunately, while I think there are some good points to this book, it simply wasn’t my cup of tea as it lacked an engaging story with characters I could feel something towards.
How many cups of tea will you need?
2 should suffice
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Thank you to the author, Gibbo Gibbs, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.