Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Embassy" by S. Alex Martin {book review}

Embassy (Recovery, Book 1)
| Music listened to while writing this post:
Sweet Revenge - Phantom Power Music
Stand Tall - Epic Score
Purgatory - Brand X Music
You Were Born for This - Epic Score
Jewel of Africa - West One Music
Chrome Standard - Trevor DeMaere
Palladio Rebuilt - Kerry Muzzey 
Tyven - Seven Lions |
First of all, I helped critique this book/was a beta reader during its editing/writing process so naturally it feels more personal to me.  It feels like I've gotten to know it and its characters a lot deeper, since I was a part of its work-in-progress journey. 
Normally, I don't read much sci-fi. In fact, I'm not a sci-fi fan at all. Therefore, I wasn't expecting to be drawn in by this book. I was going to beta read just to help a fellow writer friend out, you know?
But it turned into something so much more.
I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book, and eager to find out what happened next. Embassy took me on an incredible ride, one full of adventure-filled settings, colorful characters and charismatic events.
So yeah. If I can say this about a book from a genre I'm not usually fond of, then you know it has to be decent.
The back cover reads:  
"When Arman Lance fell in love with Ladia Purnell, he made it his life's goal to find her after she left his planet. But amid tragedy and his obsession for Ladia, Arman struggles to fight the mental isolation he has built around him. He sees joining the galaxy's Embassy Program only as one step on his journey to Ladia, nothing more.
Now Arman explores the Embassy, flies a Molter, and competes in the fast-action Hologis tournament. At last, Arman embarks on the expedition that will take him across the stars to Ladia, but the journey might change him ways he would have never dared to imagine."
Embassy may not seem to be a coming-of-age story, but deep down, it kind of is.
Arman's journey is more an emotional one than physical. Embassy may be full of thrilling space voyages and daunting physical obstacles to be overcome, but at heart it's a novel about one young man's journey to understanding who he truly is.
Concerning plot twists and the like, I'll admit, I didn't encounter a whole lot of unpredictable in this book. Nonetheless, one particular event in the very beginning threw me. Gahhh, feels! 
Throughout the entire story, the plot development was rich and the climaxes were gripping. If you want a book with solid plot ascension, and events that arrive in forceful splendor, you'll be sure to like Embassy.
As I made clear before, sci-fi is not my thing. Yeah, I've always been a Trekkie, but that's about it. I've read very little science fiction. Space itself is intriguing to me, because I love astronomy; but stories involving people in space? Nahhhh.
So instinctively I don't think I would've picked up Embassy for its genre alone. 
I'll cut to the chase here - my favorite thing about Embassy is its characters. In the beginning I thought Glacia was a jerk, but the more I saw the story progress, and got to know her, I decided she was awesome. I love her witty, charming personality and how she's constantly smiling, but not in a fake, insincere way. I love that she's so blunt.
Arman is honestly quite a sourpuss for most of the book. But he redeems himself later on. He's arguably the most moody of everyone and is a real drama-king. Of course, considering that he lost a very dear loved one I can see where part of that would come from.
 I love the interchanges between Glacia and Arman. I shipped them from the very beginning and was constantly amused by their conversations and times spent together.
Sometimes it's hard to empathize with certain characters, but overall I feel that their author did a fine job getting us acquainted with them. The prove to be colorful and entertaining.
Wow. What to even say here? So much spectacular imagery was painted in Embassy.
Part of the story is set in the sun-baked, desert wasteland of planet Undil. I could practically feel the heat scorching my skin, and the dry, sandy air clinging to my mouth. Undil is a place deprived of water, greenery and life in essence. Artificial grass covers the playgrounds and parks, replicating what had been wiped out years a priori. Mesas emerge from the barren ground, stretching endlessly.  into the distance. In short, Undil is a hot, boring world. The Embassy, where Arman goes to train for his voyage across the stars, buzzes with futuristic cosmopolitan activity.
One of my all-time favorite scenes is where Glacia takes Arman out to the edge of the city and they look at the stars - she tries to teach him some constellations so he can impress Ladia. This was so beautifully orchestrated, and I could picture it all so clearly as if I were there myself.
Of course the space scenes are also awesome. And once Arman arrives on Belvun, Ladia's home planet, the book's atmosphere and ambience changes dramatically. It takes on a whole new flavor, with the new planet which is teeming with intrigue, fascinating aromas and memorable tastes.
Overall, this book's array of settings and imagery is nothing short of vivid.
Underlying Theme(s):
The most obvious theme in Embassy is one of self-exploration/discovery.
Arman learns to truly appreciate life for all that it is. It may carry a whole lot of pain and suffering, but amid the dark moments there is also potential for great joy and peace. If only Arman were to know where that peace and joy comes from ultimately - Jesus Christ. Because even though one can find momentary happiness without Him in his/her life, it will never compare to the lasting serenity that faith in Him provides.
(On a 1 - 10 basis, 1 being the most mild and 10 the most extreme:)
Violence: 3 One of the most emotionally gripping scenes in Embassy is where Arman and his father get into a car accident, and Arman's father dies. I was so close to tearing up during that segment, just because it happened so fast and I wasn't expecting it. Concerning gore, there was a moderate amount of blood in this scene. I mean, come on, a car accident, what else do you expect?
Throughout the rest of the story it's inferred that people are killed when they reach a certain age or their children are old enough to bear offspring of their own; for "population control" purposes.
Sexual Content: 2 Nothing explicit is shown. However, it's obvious that Arman and Ladia share an intimate relationship and do intimate things. The most we actually see is kissing and embracing. Later on, Arman realizes that he's developed feelings for Glacia over Ladia and one of the final scenes shows him waking up with her in bed with him. (The author made clear that their relationship is not a sexual one, but still this scene immediately made me think otherwise when I first read it.)
If a non sci-fi fan can go through a book like this and really enjoy it, that has to say something doesn't it?! 
Some of the descriptions of things like machinery/technology got a little dry at times, but overall my describing words for Embassy are: vibrant, vivacious, memorable. This is not a book I will soon forget. I felt reading it was an immersive 3-D experience in full color.  I give it a thumbs-up!
Embassy surprised me with its charisma and personality. It's dramatic, intense should read it for yourself because obviously that's the only way you'll be able to get the full picture of everything it offers!
In short? Definitely my favorite sci-fi book yet.


  1. Great review! I may have to look into it in the near future. . . =]

  2. Good review! :) I've been hearing about Scotty's book for a while and I've wondered what it was about. XD

    Stori Tori's Blog

  3. I relate to this so much, I loved it!