“Dawn: Freedom Takes Flight” is an incredibly fast paced sci-fi adventure with a troupe of fun, bad-mouthed characters all racing to achieve their vision of the future. Some embrace the technological influx that is being presented to them through an alien benefactor, others feel as if the lower class citizens have been ignored, and scarified all in the name of progress. The stakes are high, and not everyone comes out of the fight for freedom (or advancement) alive. Honestly, it felt like something you’d want to see in a Star Trek episode as the themes that the two sides present are an interesting debate, and with the way Westmoreland writes, the book becomes a page turner ready to be put on the small screen. Except for the fact that large chunks of the book felt like they were missing...
I’ll be upfront and say that I enjoyed the premise and I thought, for the most part, the author did a nice job with creating his cast of characters and the dialogue he writes. But if you don’t really read the synopsis ahead of time (like really, READ it), you aren’t going to know what’s going on. Usually, even if you just pick up a book based on its cover and know nothing about it, the author will tell you about their world and the people in it within the first 30% of the story alongside the central conflict. While we are presented with the central conflict and plot of the book, what you won’t get is any world building. This meant that there were many sections late in the novel where characters were data dumping simply because there was no other way the reader was going to get that information.
This led to three issues: a confusing POV that sometimes went from a close third to omniscient, characters that on the surface sound great but don’t get developed making their actions seem out of sync with what was originally presented, and a world where the action has occurred “off screen” and the characters just tell you about it after, which made me think a lot of vital chapters were left on the editing room floor. This made me so sad! Because I really, really liked the first 30% of the book, but as it progressed, that lack of world building and the action predominantly happening off screen (until Mara becomes a commander) made me feel out of touch with the world and the wide cast of characters the author introduces the reader to. The synopsis gives a lot of those details, but they are so small and fleeting and I just wanted more: more world building, more character development, and more showing vs. telling.
This book has a really fun concept, and Westmoreland clearly does have a great vision for his characters and his world, you can see it in the fast paced story-line he presents, but you just never SEE much of it in his world building and, by proxy, the character arcs. Which is a shame because this was otherwise such a fun and enjoyable read! Hopefully, if Westmoreland wants to keep this world open for future installments, some of these things will be fixed, for he is a good sci-fi writer. But as it stands, because it felt like so much was left out of the book, I’m giving it a 3.25 star rating (which isn’t bad by any means)! And thank you to the author for providing me with a copy for review!
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