Rating: 9 out of 10.

This book is a short story, a novella showing a prologue to that of the first in the StarsEdge series, designed to allow the reader to sink their teeth into the meat of the series. I received this book for free, in return for an honest, unbiased review.

‘Disciples’ was self-published in 2019, and at the rear of the book are some definitions for certain words and phrases that Holmes has created, as well as vocabulary that is primarily associated with archaeology.

The plot is surrounding the main character: Lin, who the reader will see wakes up from ‘cryosleep’ in the beginning and the description of the spaceship she lives in is described very well from the very first line:

“Cryosleep was a temporary death.” (p. 1)

I find this a beautiful way of describing cryosleep, defining it from both death and regular sleep in one simple sentence, and I felt that this set the stage for the rest of the book; I had high expectations. The use of language that the author uses is highly effective as well as the grammar. Holmes uses truncated sentences very well, developing the feeling of urgency, the importance of what is being said in dialogue as well as hitting home a point within the scene.

The reader quickly finds out that Lin has electromechanical components, or augmentations, in her body and the author describes really well how they help feed her and enhances some of her natural functions of eating and sleeping. I enjoyed how unique this idea was, that the character had ‘tattoos’ on her body helped these augments work, it was interesting seeing how the author described these in their writing in such a casual manner:

“She flexed her hand, aligning the contacts inside with the conduits tattooed on her skin. A hum. A rush of energy not-quite-her-own. Paired.” (p. 4)

Most of this book is comprised of technical ‘jargon’, and Holmes’ research is fascinating as they mix reality with creativity: cryo sleep is not possible in this context, but is based from a real possibility of cryo-transmission electron microscopy (Trepout, 2020). Lin’s new mission is to observe a group of archaeologists in their field work on Earth as they explore South American desert that is of archaeological importance.

Lin observes these people, and the author does a really effective job at communicating her feelings of disparity from the people on Earth. Lin is human, but was brought up in the space station, her life is clean, sterile and odourless. However, Holmes almost revels in communicating how overwhelmed she feels as she touches down to Earth, smelling scents of her new enviornment, managing the heat without a special suit that cools her down: we feel it all with her.

I empathised with Lin, I’m from a cold climate and whenever I have traveled abroad, I feel overwhelmed from the heat, the different smells to my home country as well as a different people. Even though Lin came into contact with other humans, like herself, she still felt a huge difference between them and feels as if she doesn’t ‘fit’ in.

Later on in the book, Lin is tracking these archaeologists emotions through her advanced technology. The reader finds out that it’s her job to decide whether these scientists and archaeologists are ready for her advanced technology, then she would share that knowledge with them if they’re on the edge of a breakthrough. It’s very similar to the ideals that is held in ‘Star Trek‘. A utopia world waits for a new civilisation to grow with no interruption, monitoring them from space until they are ready to share their space with a new world. The book does feel as if it’s set in our current time frame, but with this mystery of Lin being involved in a so much advanced tech, I know that I’ll need to read the rest of the series to find out more.

I felt that the audience to this book could be appropriate for all ages. I think this because when I was 13 years old, my reading level was well above most my age, having read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by this time. So it’s really about what your reading level is, I feel this book would connect better with someone with a reading level 4 in accordance with the OECD. I do think the author’s intended audience was an adult audience, due to the language and the high quality in which the book is written. There were one or two editing issues, such as speech marks in the wrong place and the occasional missing full stop, but this did not deter from the quality of the book.

I normally seek out Fantasy novels, but this sci-fi/archaeology novel threw the rule book out the window, as I am now really looking forward to finding out what happens next with Lin and am more open now to reading more sci-fi novels.

By the end of this short story, I was hungry for more. Since finishing ‘Disciples’, I have researched that #1 in this series: Travelers is the continuation of Disciples, so I am going to read this book and review it as the manner in which ‘Disciples’ was written was incredibly engaging. I do look forward to finding out the details of where Lin is from, to see if Holmes is managing to keep the high quality of writing up as well as what other’s think of these books.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book, as I mentioned before I do not normally read Sci-Fi, I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and would think it would appeal to others who have an interest in all genres and especially in Sci-Fi itself. I know that the Sci-Fi community is very specific and this may not be typical of a Sci-Fi novel, as there are other elements involved, but I would definitely associate this in that genre.

Disciples Summary

Theme: This book is typically a Sci-Fi novel, based from the viewpoint of advanced humans from a Utopian culture. There is mystery and drama involved as well which adds to the story nicely.

Description: The author tells the story through a 3rd person eye, I believe to encapsulate the main characters emotions as well as side characters. I think that this was done really well, and helped show the characters development even though it was a short story. The ending was that of a cliffhanger, it left me wanting to know more, which I think was a positive thing to do.

Narration: The way the story is told is highly effective. The language used was of high quality with truncated sentences used to build drama and make a point.

The Author

V.S. Holmes

Real life archaeologist by day, writer by night V.S. Holmes is a person of many hats. They have created this world, in such a way that it is totally believable. You can find on their website their work aswell as being able to buy their work on Amazon, in hard copy as well as on Kindle, as well as an Epic Dark Fantasy series!

Don’t forget to tag V.S. Holmes on social media your thoughts on their work!

References

Department for Buisness Innovation and Skills. (2012) ‘Skills for Life Survery: a Survery of Literacy, Numeracy and IT Levels in England’, BIS Research Paper #81. (pp. 1 – 40).

Holmes, V. (2019) Disciples. Amphibian Press Publishers.

Trepout, S. (2020) ‘In situ structural analysis of the flagellum attachment zone in ‘Trypanosoma brucei’ using cryo-scanning transmission electron tomography’, Journal of Structural Biology, Vol 4. (p. 1).

V.S Holmes Website