Review: “Evolution’s End,” C.J. Daniels

Pros: Interesting to see the family dynamics play out
Cons: Rough–could use some polishing; a handful of small plot holes
Rating: 3 out of 5

C.J. Daniels’ Evolution’s End (Dark Frontier Book 1) takes place years after a nuclear war. Three major companies arose from the ashes to rebuild, but of course they have their own agendas. The corporations now control exploration and colonization. In this middle of this stand Admiral Nicholas Dante and his three children: Kate, Michael, and Kristin. All three are military and carry high ranks; a couple of them specifically have backgrounds in intelligence. The Admiral has been a die-hard conspiracy theorist for much of his career; he’s been working behind the scenes to figure out what’s really going on–and he doesn’t hesitate to drag his children into his plots.

 

It’s rare for military SF to take on a family group of military leaders/spies/etc. I really liked the dynamics it brought into play. It helped to bolster the not-entirely-great personalities of the people involved. Kate, for example, who seems to serve as the closest thing the book has to a main character, acts like a spoiled brat. She continues acting like a spoiled brat in the presence of highly-ranked people, but since she’s the Admiral’s daughter she largely gets away with it. I’d rather see that sort of character be more of a background presence.

Plenty of things go wrong for our characters, resulting in much running, hiding, and killing. I can’t fault the amount of action in this story. The Admiral’s children figure out for themselves that Striker, the foremost of the three corps who run everything, has done so well by trading certain things for advanced tech from an alien race called the Jek’Tan. That alien race does not have the best interests of the world at heart. Apparently they get bored easily and like to spend their time re-shaping other life forms.

“We like to…create things.”

Frankly, that one line hints at a plethora of other plots that could have made for a much more interesting story. That’s the story I really wanted to read.

While I enjoy the amount of action in this tale, it seemed to me that action scenes are not this author’s strength. Fights sometimes had details that didn’t make sense, and they felt awkward and stilted. I’m used to seeing rough starts in novels because it takes the author time to warm up, but it’s rare to see an author’s work get more awkward toward the end of a book. The author unfortunately dips into stereotypes when different bad guys go toe-to-toe. There are also little plot holes scattered throughout. For example, when you are in a building that is occupied and run by a hologram that works for you, why would there be any need for physical keyboards or big impressive red buttons? Also, since the Jek’Tan talk about perfecting races, why would they then plan to sterilize the Earth?

I wish Kate hadn’t been the major point of view character, and I wish the author had written more of the story surrounding the aliens. This is a decent book, but it has some issues.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review

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