Another 5* review of Faraday. Hero, Sebastian takes stock of where he is after the first two books in the Teslas saga and is not confronted by a rosy picture. A pretty bleak landscape has been left by all the turmoil but he knows he has no choice. He has to carry on.
Steampunk rules as a genre and increases in intensity in this thrilling instalment. The young reader base will find itself growing with it, entering as children and leaving as adults. Wow, zombies are now eating people and sex is rearing its ugly head but all in the nicest possible taste. And this is what allows it to continue unabated – it is anchored in humour. This gives the reader a warmer, comfier environment than the one endured by the characters – a bit like watching the mother of all storms develop through your cosy living room window. Useful when watching your hero being picked out by a rather unpleasant giant spider:
‘Sebastian stared up into the horrific face. Jets of flame sparked from the corners of the creature’s gigantic mouth, and a deep rumbling sounded from within. A foul gas rushed out of its mouth and Sebastian fought for air.
Then the jets ignited. Fire, white with intensity, erupted from the creature and engulfed him.’
So, whether you’re an innocent brave teen, or a fully rounded adult, Faraday will give you action and excitement, tears, laughter and a sprinkling of naughtiness. Read it and then delve back into the two earlier editions, Tesla and Decay.
Continuing from Book 2 of the Tesla Evolution series – Decay – Faraday further tells the story of a war between cyborgs and their technological dependence and supremacy, and the humans relying on their final aces-in-the-hole in their steam-crafts and near-magical abilities in the Dystopic wasteland that houses the last surviving knowable life on Earth. Our hero Sebastian – though young and still but one of many – is dead, his allies scattered, and all is lost as the war comes to a shuddering halt... until a strange breakdown of security in a cyborg stronghold fails, and a desperate gathering of friends pull Sebastian back into life. Finding themselves in the middle of a new battle in the war for dominance, they begin a new struggle for freedom and for life itself, coming to terms with the grim reality of a conflict with a cost far above its worth... with zombies and sky pirates now joining the game.
The Tesla Evolution series has so far taken a different and darker turn with each installment, like the slow turn of Harry Potter from the somewhat wide-eyed Sorcerer's Stone through the decidedly grim third chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban and beyond. The comparison doesn't end here, much like the jump-started protagonist Sebastian. The shift from a sense of order and education with trouble to be triumphed as the general feel, to the lessons of adulthood in a world with only moral grays and the meaning of war to confront is much the same in both. Faraday feels like a whole shade different from what came before it; grim and dirty on a whole new level. The kick of humor that permeated the books before has more frequently turned to a cynicism of a teenager who has seen all he knows destroyed not once, nor even twice at this point. The majority of the humor comes from a fourth-wall dramatic irony aspect of the story as the absurdity of the war of cyborgs, steampunk pseudo-magicians, airship pirates, AIs and the living dead, all coming into the fray, and talking with complete sincerity about cyber-dragons and characters named with the conventions of your aunt's social media username. The cracks that break up the tension are still there, but now more than ever mirror Sebastian's, and an intended audience's, progressing teenage outlook on life.
The book remains in a steady and pondering position for much of the book, though this is punctuated by a great amount of tension and often graphic violence. It never feels gratuitous, but the gritty detail of removing a machinated shredder round from a friend's abdomen isn't spared as much as it may have been in earlier books in the series where such things were not the focus. This time the devil is entirely in the details, and while it doesn't usually feel slow, let alone by any means pointless, it does mean that many chapters consist of a great amount of discussion and small events before more grand occurrences can come to light. Regardless, the pacing is well kept in a way that many books fail to when aiming for similar feels.
The Tesla Evolution series continues to be in a category of its own with its signature blend of bizarre tongue-in-cheek fantasy and sincere, somewhat moving writing that really keeps you on your toes. While seeming to be more settled on its general tone and aims, the addition of new factions jumbles the plot in a way that almost takes away from the experience, and yet whatever it should be doing wrong is somehow in its favor as tropes are just mocked enough that you can appreciate it on both levels. It's difficult to describe, but although feeling more of a stepping stone than any other part so far, this shouldn't be the stop to get off the 'Lingane train' as Book 4 – Fusion – looks to be starting at a good position from the cliffhanger of this book's ending. Developing well in both writing and book design itself, Lingane delivers another excellent and bizarre piece to those with the taste for it.
Sebastian and his friends finally get out of the Hive but did he do it in the right way or has he caused a chain reaction that will destroy the world? Seb and Melanie don't have too much time to reason that out though as they travel across Australia to continue the war against the cyborgs and the mysterious Iris. Perhaps if Seb realised they were taking one of the most dangerous foes with him, they'd reconsider the passenger list?
Aussie author Mark Lingane once again takes us to his dystopian Mad-Max-meets-Dr Who-meets-Blade Runner Earth and plonks us right in the middle of Tesla Sebastian's nightmare reality. (This is a series begging to be read in the right order, but for newbies, a Tesla is someone who can manipulate electricity in amazing ways.)
It's classed as a teen series but it's becoming increasingly dark. While the language and lack of swearing makes it suitable across the YA age range, the fear factor and depth of gore points it towards those with strong stomachs. (E.g. at one point the removal of an eye is recounted graphically, including all the attendant mess plus there are some bloodthirsty undead to encounter.)
Indeed, we travel with Seb, Melanie and old friends like the commander Nikola, Michael the vet (animal vet rather than army) and Albert the Germanic-sounding ding scientist on a road trip that brings some interesting revelations about Seb's past and horrific encounters. Melanie is also hit hard by romantic issues, but male readers need not squirm; Mark doesn't go soppy so no need to look away. Faraday, like the rest of the series, has plenty for both genders without embarrassing either.
Once again Mark invites us to play the mind game common to all his novels right across the age divide: spot the homage. This time the fleeting tributes are as different as poet William Wordsworth, the animated movie Up and a nod to the pioneering days of nursing among others. (Oh, and the aforementioned Albert of course!)
There's also the second fascinating feature continued across this series: a made in heaven marriage of adventure and science. Mark has mastered the knack of working scientific explanation into a story without affecting the pace. But it's not all a matter of reacquaintance with past successes; there are new concepts to come to terms with and, indeed, new characters to meet.
We wait a while to come across The Hunter (he's well worth the wait!) but while we're waiting there's Angel Snow. She has the allure of a Bond girl as well as a name that suggests she should be but is she angelic? Can a faraday be angelic? I'll leave that for you to decide.
There's just a bit of clunking at the beginning as characters recall past events through conversation; always a difficult device to work in seamlessly. Yet, it's soon forgotten as we race through sadness (tissues may be required!), shocks and shed loads of thrills and excitement.
This series is the ideal gift for anyone with a strong stomach and a love of adrenaline surges. However if you're giving the gift and can't afford a second copy, best start practising turning pages gently. Whichever method you use, you're missing out if you don't read it yourself too. Meanwhile Book 4, Fusion comes out in 2015.
FARADAY has been selected as a #YOUNGADULT finalist in Foreword Reviews' prestigious 2014 #INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards! In a competition with over 1,500 other entrants, it's pretty great to have made it this far. Stay tuned for the winner announcements at the end of June. Feeling the #indielove!
Faraday continues to attract crictical acclaim as it is listed for the 2014 Ditmar and Aurealis awards.