07 February 2013

Critical Mass

Hello, everybody in Blogger world. I know it's been awhile since I have regularly updated this blog, but if there's anything I've learned in the past few years, it's that being an English major means I have much less time for fun reading because of all of my assigned reading. Fortunately, I got enough of a break to read some fun stuff. So I am quite pleased to present my review for the third novel in Cyrus Keith's NADIA trilogy:Critical Mass.

The last time we checked in with Nadia and her team of determined protectors, a major disagreement on what to do with the latest survivor of the Pinnacle's do-gooder sentiment gone horribly wrong--a young girl named Sofi--forced Nadia to make a difficult decision and strike out on her own. Critical Mass opens three years later, as she struggles with hiding from her adversaries and parenting a headstrong preteen. Despite her best efforts to remain discrete, circumstances force her to return to her friends in Virginia. By now, though, all roads lead to the group's complex in Virginia, as wildcard former Pinnacle operative Jenna reappears, with her previous employers hot on her trial. When all parties' paths finally cross in the book's (and the series's) gripping finale, what will become of Nadia and company?

I am very pleased to review the final book of this trilogy. (A big thank you to Cyrus for sending me an ARC!) I usually have a somewhat dim view of series. It's not that I don't love a good series--I really do. The problem is I rarely find a series where the quality remains even. Usually, the first book is okay, but the author only truly gets into their groove with the second or third book. Or the first book is amazing and then the rest sharply decline in quality. Or each book just descends into merely rehashing the plot of the original. Not so with Keith's NADIA series. All three books are excellent science fiction thrillers in their own right, each is integral to the series's overall story arc, and each features its own distinctive plot. It's refreshing to read a series that displays such quality craftsmanship.

As always with Keith's books, Critical Mass maintains a frenetic pace and expertly juggles multiple character points-of-view. The result is an immensely book that is really hard to put down. (I kept sneaking off to read it when I should have been doing my homework. I had to know how it ended!) The one aspect about this book that I really noticed, though, was the superb characterization. Each of the preceding books also featured great, complex characters, but I was especially impressed with them in this installation of the series. I think one of the reasons the characters jumped out at me even more so than usual is the believable character changes all have undergone. Sometimes character changes in a series, or really even the course of a book, are distracting because it feels forced, but that is not at all the case with these characters. Each major character--especially Nadia, Jon, and Jenna--has undergone some harrowing experiences in the course of the series, and as a result, each has also undergone some resulting personality adjustments. The development of these personality changes flows naturally from the characters themselves, as well as their recent experiences, ensuring that this action-packed tale also rewards readers with deft characterization, as well.

I was also especially impressed with the ending. I am picky about endings, so I appreciated the way Keith wrapped up the action in this book. He did not shy away from the unfortunate consequences of some of the characters' actions to provide readers with forced sentimentality, but he also does not gratuitously torture you with forced action and destruction, either. As a result, without giving anything away, the ending is bittersweet, but it is also realistic and powerful.

If you have read the previous two novels in Keith's series, you simply must read the final chapter in the NADIA saga. Critical Mass offers more of the same high-quality science fiction that Keith always provides, including a gripping plot, rich characterization, and a satisfying conclusion to the series. You will have to wait a couple of days to purchase it, but it will be released this Friday, February 8th.

P.S. If you're reading through this review, thinking, "But I haven't read the other books, so I wouldn't understand what's going on," get thee to the first two books in the series! You don't know what you're missing. As with this novel, they're wonderful reads. They're also, as I mentioned earlier, fast-paced thrillers that you will work through very quickly. As soon as you finish them, you will be desperate to know what happens next. And you won't have to wait to find out. :)

To purchase Critical Mass, follow this link to the publisher's website. If you're looking for the first two books, you can also find them--Becoming NADIA and Unalive--on the website, as well. Also, Becoming Nadia is now available as a print book. And, as to quote the late, great Billy Mays, "But, wait, there's more!" In June, the companion book, Lies and Paine, which focuses on the series's crafty and wonderful Jenna is scheduled to be released. So, stay tuned. The NADIA trilogy proper may be finished, but there's still more to come. ~~~~~~~

I'm not sure when I'll be able to post my next review, but it likely will not be until May. But by then I will have graduated--finally!--and I should have at least a couple of months to decompress before I move on to my next time-consuming adventure. Thus, I should be able to post some book review. Miss you guys!


  1. Thank you, Zella! We do have some good stuff coming out. If anyone has any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

  2. I envy you! I have to wait until March 1 to buy my copy of Critical Mass, but I tell people about the NADIA series all the time. Cyrus is easily as good a writer as early Tom Clancy, if not better with the sci-fi aspects of the NADIA series. I highly recommend this gripping series as well.