Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fluency (Confluence Book 1) by Jennifer Foehner Wells
I'm selective in my reading and I try to read as much as I can, but apparently I'm not near as selective as some people. I love to read the one star reviews when I read a book because that way I can't say I wasn't warned. Thankfully I rarely get put off by the negative reviews or I'd likely get no experience reading some of the stuff that I do like. This book grabbed me from the start and it might be that many of the negatives people were talking about were just things I felt I'd expect.
Fluency has a lot of old tropes that run through it in a sort of old lace interwoven fashion. What I mean by that is that it starts out with the mystery of what may have happened at area 51 and brings our astronauts to a seeming derelict space craft far out in space. All these years it has waited for us to put together the technology necessary to get to it. Next it has a sort of horror element that could almost rival the Alien movie franchise. Throw into all of this some astronauts with seeming anomalous behavior and you have that usual recipe for disaster.
There is also that style decision that doesn't bother me very much, but does need mentioning for those who it does bother. This is where the supposed professional astronauts start acting like hormone driven adolescents. It really doesn't predominate; but it lurks in there and peeks it's head out now and then. There is an explanation for it and it is fairly plausible within the context of the story so in this instance even my usual gnashing and grinding of teeth is interrupted with a feeling of acceptance.
I don't want to suggest that there is zero tolerance in science fiction for romance, but I think that the SF author is expected to handle it in a less intrusive way. I like good character development and so I have some tolerance for the romance in that even the consummate professional do manage to work some of that into their lives. So although I felt there might have been some cringe worthy moments, they were not oppressive. What probably bothered me more would be that some of them end up being moments that are dream or hallucinatory sequences and then the reader ends up wondering, when the next one happens, if it will ever be real.
This had a lot of interesting premises and some interesting ways of developing those and sometimes giving them a bit of a twist. There was also an interesting development of the reason for the alien ship to be where it is and the reason that it seems abandoned and even the bit of conspiracy theory that demonstrates why some of the actions of the characters seem to be a bit anomalous. Overall I give Jennifer Foehner Wells some high marks for her development of her plot, though I can see where some people might be distracted by the astronauts behavior enough to miss some of the points behind the 'why' to that behavior.
I recommend this to lovers of SFF and even SF as long as you don't need your science distilled down it's finest particle. I would even recommend it as a young adult offering with the caveat that it does seem to exceed my bad language filter by at least about 55 occurrences.
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