My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Arrival was a long drawn out read for me. It took me almost a month to find time to read it all. Partly due to life, but it was also a somewhat slow read in general. Not typical Ryk Brown fair. While he has become one of my favorite authors since I found his Frontiers Saga series; that does not make everything he writes an automatic favorite. This novel, while a decent story, was flawed in a few ways that were significant enough for me to barely be able to say ‘3 stars – I liked it’ vs. ‘2 stars – it was ok’ on Goodreads.
The characters, as always, were well conceived and written. Some attitudes seemed forced in a couple of them, but they were consistent which offset that somewhat. They did grow on me as they developed through the book, but not enough that I was totally pulled in to their plights emotionally (as I have been with characters in other Brown books).
The story is not bad. The crew of the Icarus, and advanced party on a planetary scouting mission, are sent to determine the viability of Tau Ceti Five. The final destination of the primary ship, the Daedalus – a multi-generational interstellar colony ship – depends on their findings. And of course, not everything follows mission nominal paths. What kind of Sci-Fi book would THAT be, right?
The landing scene is quite intense. This was probably the best part of the book. The cross-country escapades of two of the crew, as well as the discovery and triumph over unique natural environmental issues by the main crew were the main draws into the book for me. It’s what kept me reading to find out what would happen next.
The major problems I had were with the plot, and they are two-fold. One is that the prologue gives away a very important plot point, as well as shows part of the final outcome of the story. It spoiled something in the book for me. If you read it, you will most like see what I mean in the first few pages. It might not be that big of a deal for some, but it took away a lot of the dramatic tension of not knowing what might happen to the primary colony ship. The second is that certain important information regarding why the mission was not exactly equipped correctly is not revealed until near the 80% mark in the book. That fact threw me out of the story when I was reading, but later caused an ‘oh, ok, it makes more sense now’ moment. Unfortunately, my opinions of the book were already colored pretty heavily by that point. And there was really no reason not to tell the whole story up front as far as I could see.
If you really want to know what I’m talking about you can go read the SPOILER info of this review on Goodreads.
There were other little foibles like characters saying they had never felt cold before and the like that were an annoyance to me, but that mainly happened after I got initial disgust at them not having a water going boat in the landing equipment, and never testing the shutters on the aeorbrake system in 90 years.
So, TL:DR, It was an OK book that spoiled itself and therefore barely gets 3 stars and an Alright Read designation from me.