Book Review: Echo Volume 1

As you can see from the title, these are my thoughts on Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter.

I picked up this book on a sale for Kindle, and intended to get it read and reviewed back in June. Unfortunately, personal life things got in the way, and I finally got the chance to finish it last week. I have to say, despite some of its pitfalls, I’m glad I did.

The book is written from the perspective of the MC, Atriya, who is part of a special division of the dystopian world’s military. Atriya has been the dutiful soldier, always striving for better, faster, and stronger. However, he has recently begun to doubt himself, and has to constantly fight off feelings and ideas that contradict the simple life he always thought he wanted.

Echo holds a mirror up to our society and its tendencies to “…[praise] the virtues of self-reliance…all the while condemning the sin of dependence.”

Because of the world he lives in, Atriya’s feelings are the kind that could get him punished or killed, so he does his best to keep them to himself. But, as is unavoidable with bottled up emotions, they begin to leak out, getting him in trouble. When we leave Atriya, he has just been briefed for deployment on a mission where his superiors are planning something sinister, and his life will be at stake.

It was obvious to me, through the different descriptions of equipment and operations, that the author must have spent time as a soldier. When I looked up Kent Wayne’s bio, that was confirmed. Although Mr. Wayne doesn’t want people to focus on this fact, it is precisely because of his experience that this book brings a level of understanding and intricacy it couldn’t have otherwise.

Now, if you’ve read it or read over the reviews, you’ll know that it has a rather abrupt ending, without any of the fascinating plot points being fully matured or explored. Nothing is resolved, and it honestly feels like it was just getting started when it ends. Normally, a novel has a clear arc, with beginning, middle, and end, even if it has an overarching bigger goal that the author intends to flesh out in subsequent novels. This doesn’t, but I liked the fledgling concepts enough for that not to deter me from reading. Keep in mind: I did not read the preview of book two, because I want to actually read book two, and I wanted to review this on its own merits.

There were a couple of things that seemed to indicate either that the first book was an experiment, put out to test the waters, or it was the author’s debut novel.

First, the novel setup and length. The way it’s set up, I feel there are a lot more installments coming. I don’t mind it too much, but think it would make an AWESOME comic book or graphic novel.

Second, there is moderate repetition in some of Atriya’s sentiments. It wasn’t bad writing, by any means, but it made me feel like the author really wanted to get across an important point, but either didn’t trust the writing to convey it strongly enough, or didn’t think the reader would grasp the gravity of the situation. This is something that has probably already changed in this author’s other books, as they have obtained more experience and hopefully trusts the writing and the readers more.

There were a TON of things that I loved about this book, especially when the prose flows and you can tell the author was really in the zone.

The section of the military the MC is a part of, as well as the equipment and mechanical upgrades the soldiers have as part of their bodies, reminded me fondly of reading “Halo: The Fall of Reach.”

 In fact, I was looking forward to a fight scene to see these soldiers in action, but I’ll have to wait until I read the second book.

Kent Wayne is fantastic at process writing, especially when describing weapons or other gear. The “Executor” pistol was one of my favorites, with thin rectangles of metal that get charged with energy in order to form a bullet. Or, the description of how the drug called “Afterlife” was created as an anti-cancer medicine, but came to be used for “more indulgent purposes” of the elites.

It was fascinating to be in Atriya’s mind as he struggles with depression and numbness borne of disillusionment. At this point, he may be feeling the call to something better, but is still resisting it, as many heroes do.

Random comment: With as many military ranks, types of equipment, slang, and complex world elements as this book has, I would have loved an index of some kind to refer to. There were a lot of things introduced in a very short book, and it would have been helpful.

In conclusion, this novel has its problems, but none that should stop you from buying it. I will absolutely be continuing the series, and I’m excited to see how the author has progressed. Also, I really hope this series is turned into a comic, graphic novel, or other visual media, because I’d love to see what an artist would do with it. A video game with a similar formula to Black Ops or even Gears of War would be even better.

You can buy Kent Wayne’s book, Echo Volume One, here! Where it is (as of the date I’m writing this) FREE for Kindle! Plus, you can buy volumes 2 & 3 for just 0.99 cents!

Ok, once again, I’m not sure if this is put together in a sensible format, but hopefully, it’s good enough.