The Burning Years Review (Cli-Fi Speculative)

Title: The Burning Years | Series: Until This Last Quartet #1 | Author: Felicity Harley | Pub. Date: 2017-2-14 | Pages: 220 | ASIN: B06X3W39S5 | Genre: Speculative Fiction / Cli-Fi | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Burning Years

In the year, 2060, Sophie, a top female scientist, dismantles the government weather modification program and steals the male and female trans-humans who hold the promise of extended life.

While the remaining inhabitants of Earth are forced to design new underground habitats in order to survive a harsh, overheated world, Captain Rachel Chen, takes the worldship Persephone to Proxima Centauri, hoping that this new star system will provide a refuge for the survivors of the human race-Goodreads

Book cover for The Burning Years

The Burning Years

If you like climate fiction,The Burning Years is right up your alley. This book revolves around the fact that mankind has seriously screwed the earth up. And now humans are forced to retreat underground and reach for the stars. The author has done a great job of looking into the near future and giving a sobering view of the destruction climate change has wrecked. She also pulls no punches in making it clear that is mankind that has done this. That too little was done too late. That our current status of being ruled by people who care more about the money in their pockets than anything else is going to destroy everything. It has already started.

The aforementioned aspects of The Burning Years make me want to cheer initially. I love it when an author doesn’t bother to mince words. Felicity Harley sets out to educate and entertain at the same time. It’s obvious the author knows exactly what she wants to do with this series. She also has some fantastic ideas (I can’t say that I believe they’re feasible, but they are cool.)The Burning Years moves at a steady pace and is very well explained. Unfortunately, this precision in examining the situations the characters find themselves in, as well as indulging in explaining the scientific concepts being utilized means that it feels like very little actually happens. From about two-thirds on, the story is told in snapshots where we check in with the characters at various points. This is a very detached relation of facts that may not appeal to everyone.

The Burning Years didn’t work for me for a few reasons. The first is that the author wrote in present tense. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing in present tense, but reading it makes me twitchy. I found it ridiculously hard to get into the flow of the story, and it was mainly due to the strangeness of reading in present tense. Specifically third person multiple present tense. It threw me off my game right off the bat and I never really managed to adjust to it.

The second reason is the author’s tendency to format her book in a very formal, almost instructional manner.

“As part of this particular experiment, Persephone’s living spaces are interwoven with algae bioreactors, anaerobic digesters, bioluminescent light sources, heat absorbing and emitting substances, and even hygroscopic materials, such as calcium chloride” – Felicity Harley, The Burning Years.

Again, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this. Also, the fact that she defines these words in the back of the book is very handy. However, it did tend to pull me away from the story and make me feeling like I should be learning the words instead of absorbed in the plot. Similarly, she frequently puts slang in single quotation marks. This was something that was completely unnecessary and, to be honest, made me giggle a bit.  Also, the author’s straightforward layout of climate change and implementation of technology and scientific concepts doesn’t always play well with the somewhat mystical beliefs about life and death that she espouses.

Overall, I admire what the author is trying to do in The Burning Years. I do think the book has potential. However, it needs some work to make it a more reader-friendly experience.

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