Plot: The story is fast-paced and can be described as a sci-fi thriller. From managing to evade an evil figure to recusing the love of his life, the story of Sandy Pike is action-packed.
Prose: Since the book is set in a futuristic world, it would have been easy for the author to indulge in the technical aspect of that world. Fortunately, that is not the case. Instead of getting lost in the technical jargon, the reader is immersed in a wholly vibrant realm made tangible through the writing.
Originality: The blend of fantasy and sci-fi is captivating and is done with nuance. The aspect that most sets the book apart is the triumphant worldbuilding.
Character/Execution: The protagonist’s narrative arch is well defined. From being lost at the start to overcoming obstacles in his path, the character grows authentically throughout the book.
Date Submitted: August 16, 2021
Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
Pike's Passage is the second novel in the Sandy Pike Series by John J Spearman. The Planetary Alliance lost the war, and it looks like Sandy Pike is about to lose his job as well. With no promotion and no assignment, he will no longer command a battlecruiser. With his ship destroyed, all of his options are gone. His only way out of a desk job is to cash out all his investments and salvage the Alice May, an abandoned transporter. But the Alice May needs some serious repairs before he can start his own freight business. On paper, it looks easy, but Sandy knows he is about to enter uncharted territory, and he will meet hazards and new enemies every step of the way. However, Sandy had no idea that a freight business came with this level of danger. Nothing could have prepared him for the roller-coaster ride ahead.
Pike's Passage was surprisingly captivating, even though the plot did get political in the middle. However, the action and elements of adventure in the story made it even more interesting than I expected. Sandy was a fascinating character to meet. At first, I found Sandy enigmatic, but as the story progressed, I connected with him and enjoyed his personal development. He went from being hopeless without his job to invigorated because he finally found a purpose that excited him. His transition was smooth and very interesting. The action sequences were fantastic; I felt like I was watching a space opera in the cinema. The attacks on Alice May were so richly detailed that I had no difficulty imagining what was happening. The concept was very interesting and original, better than just fighting aliens and saving the world. Fascinating and entertaining at the same time. The action and the pace make it one of a kind in the genre. Sandy Pike could be the next Star-Lord!
Taking an unexpected turn in the Sandy Pike series, Pike's Passage by John J Spearman is a stellar second installment of his sci-fi saga. Capturing the same authenticity in terms of detail and world-building, this follow-up turns inwards to a more adventurous and character-driven drama, rather than a sprawling epic.
When Sandy Pike sees his lifelong dream of being a starship captain slipping away as the Alliance stumbles into an unthinkable cosmic defeat, he refuses to let the mistakes of other men steal his shot at happiness. The idea of entering the freight business means a smooth transition away from forced unemployment, provided he can get his hands on the right military-grade gear to make it pirate-proof, even if that means liberating it from the conquering HUW forces. Bringing a century-old ship back to life is far from simple, but beginning a new life on his own terms is all that Pike needs - the lucky break he's been waiting for.
Being able to hold your own when the cannons start firing is worth its weight in gold in the post-war chaos, and his new ship, the Alice May, doesn't need to ever back down from a fight, and Pike's noble and heroic tendencies quickly bring him back into the line of fire. Whether it is escaping the clutches of a sociopath, or negotiating the release of the woman he has unexpectedly come to love, this compelling protagonist endlessly dodges disaster, and does it with style. The only question is, will the civil war raging among the HUW be enough to bring the Alliance back from the dead, and if so, will Sandy regain his command?
This relatively short and thrilling read can be knocked out in an afternoon, and with a natural flow to the narration that rarely loses momentum, it will be a challenge to set down. Readers looking for laser-splashed action will not be disappointed, nor will those who appreciate the intricacies of battle strategy, defensive maneuvers, and the psychological mind games that any admiral must play when lives are on the line. The high-stress moments are balanced well with interpersonal onboard plotlines and romantic interludes from various characters, as well as the daily grind of ship life, much like traditional naval literature.
As was the case in the first novel, the nuanced and technical language isn't overly complicated, but instead immerses readers in this futuristic world, making every scene more believable and tangible. The dialogue varies widely, from whip-smart banter and calculated negotiations to intense emotional exchanges and rapid-fire battle communications. That said, there are occasional bursts of anachronistic language, or at least phrasing that feels out of place for a given character or setting. These are usually attempts to achieve an authentic, conversational pattern of speech, but the result has the opposite effect, seeming somewhat unnatural.
Aside from these slight stumbles, Spearman delivers a remarkably fun and unpredictable ride, adding new depth to characters that are both relatable and unforgettable, in this unique work of military science fiction.