*Book received in exchange for honest review*
The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy
New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.
Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.
For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen? – Goodreads
The Phoenix Cycle was a hard one to get immersed it. There is a lot of potential here for success. There is the dystopian factor and the world building and backstory of what this whole revolution is about for the characters versus those of higher rankings, General and the government. I’m going to be honest that as the characters started filing in frequently to the story, it started getting incredibly confusing to track who was loyal to who and what the whole deal was going on. I criticize the writing style here as it dwells on small facts a lot making it feel like it drags out a lot the story itself. At the same time, I also would say that the structure of the story also causes the idea itself to get lost in its potential depth and doesn’t deliver it. As mentioned before, the idea here has a lot of potential, it just wasn’t executed with a lack of engagement.
And then specifically one of the characters and only that character alone is written in what I suspect is an Irish accent. If everyone fighting in the IRA is supposed Irish then why only that person has this sort of writing and not the others. Actually, to write with someone’s spoken accent is more of script writing instead of say novel writing. It does nothing but make the reading harder and also makes it lack the uniformity that it needs, adding onto the frustration. Sad, because that character was one of the engaging ones to read. In terms of characters, there are a few main ones who are focused in the story, particularly mentioned in the synopsis above. “Mom” has the mystery behind her and she creates quite the mind-boggling situation. The IRA members perhaps are a little more interesting to read just because their cause seems so straightforward and yet so unclear. In terms of who seems like the focus, Steve is one of the main characters from the start as well but always feels very one dimensional.
Confusing, overly descriptive and way too complex for its own good. The Phoenix Cycle has been one of those frustrating reads that takes a whole lot of energy to get through. There are pet peeves in reading that it commits and doesn’t stay uniform to what it tries to achieve. There always seems to be a depths and layers that get carried away far too much than it has given enough time to build-up for. The Phoenix Cycle feels very much like other novels in its genre except lacking some of the polish it should have perhaps in the final editing phase within its structure and writing style.
Goodreads rating: 2 stars out of 5
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