Plot: The final volume of Y.S. Pascal's upbeat and inventive science-fiction trilogy finds Shiloh and Spud, the heroes of all three books, at last facing the truth that Omega Archon (or great leader) of the galactic Zygan Emprise that employs them as catascopes (intelligence agents/heroic troubleshooters) is a tyrant. As always, Pascal writes a lively, fast-paced story that audaciously riffs on a wide array of science fiction ideas. The material is clever and high spirited, but it all moves too quickly, with the speed and emphasis on dialogue of a screenplay. Despite several welcome scenes of philosophical discussion, the novel rarely illuminates what all its universe-shattering revelations mean to Shiloh.
Prose: Pascal's dialogue remains brisk and engaging, especially when the characters joke or discuss the mad particulars of their adventures. Much of the story is told in that dialogue, and action and description are often rushed.
Originality: Despite the meta-fictional boldness of the novel's ending, which finds Shiloh facing her creator, Rebirth is not as lavishly inventive as the earlier books in this series. This time, with a clear climax and goal in sight for the characters, the material has the familiar feeling of a splashy finale in which the suspense lies less in whether the heroes will win the day but in what particular solution will get them there. The particulars have some surprise, but the novel's shape feels pre-ordained.
Character/Execution: Friendship and family power this series, and at its best, readers see both guiding Shiloh's actions. But the series moves too fast—and too often tells its story through quipping dialogue—to explore the depths of its lead, much less its sprawling cast.
Date Submitted: July 16, 2020