Book Review: Becoming Human by Eliza Green
Goodreads Description: In 2163, a polluted and overcrowded Earth forces humans to search for a new home. But the exoplanet they target, Exilon 5, is occupied.
Having already begun a massive relocation programme, the World Government on Earth sends Bill Taggart to monitor the threat level of the Indigenes, the alien race that lives on Exilon 5. Bill is a man on the edge. He believes the Indigenes killed his wife, but he doesn’t know why. Until now.
Stephen has every reason to despise the humans and their attempts to colonise his planet. To protect his species from further harm, he must go against his very nature and become human.
Laura O’Halloran is losing her daily battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her only chance at recovery is leaving the dark Earth for the sunnier climate of Exilon 5. She hopes her credentials as a World Government employee will secure her a one-way trip, but with the ever increasing relocation demand that is not a guarantee.
Her discovery of a deadly secret threatens her life and that of Bill and Stephen. A secret so great it could rip apart both worlds.
My Review: I was offered a reviewer's copy of Becoming Human by the author Eliza Green in exchange for an honest review.
The book begins with a cinematic, omniscient view of Exilon 5 as it is terraformed by humans in an attempt to create a second Earth. We get to see the devastating effects of the chemicals used on the indigenous race there which sets a very dramatic tone compared to a very under-dramatic pace of the rest of the book. I really liked the ideas presented within Becoming Human: the ethical issues of attempting to eliminate an indigenous race in the name of human survival, the intelligent aliens, as well as the way the characters tried to resolve things without resorting to killing each other. Both the humans and the Indigenes take a rational approach and try to learn about each other instead of heading straight into conflict, which was really refreshing to see.
Unfortunately, Becoming Human has a few major issues that cause the book to fall short. The first of which is the constant shifting of POV and the overwhelming amount of characters involved. In the beginning, I found it quite disorienting, as just as I was getting settled into a character and their story it switched to another, and another, and another, and another, which drastically cut down on my ability to care about each character. I wanted to hear more about Bill and his wife as there was an actual emotional connection there and something to sympathize with, but it kept switching away so by the time the story returned to him it was hard to focus. In that same vein, although I liked the scene of the alien and the young boy meeting, the boy's POV never came back again, in fact he had nothing else to do with the story, and thus made his POV feel pointless. Why did I get invested in him as a character with his mom, if he didn't have any sort of part in the story?
The second fatal flaw was the lack of tension. There wasn't enough build up of anticipation and what attempts that were thrown in were cliches. "If only she knew what would be coming next..." Those types of lines are so overused that they don't hold any power to create tension anymore. The plot also crawled at a snail's pace, focusing more on explaining things than providing any action. I could probably sum up every action in the story in a paragraph, which is really quite scary for a full length novel.
The final issue I had with the book was the simple fact that it wasn't finished. Every book, no matter where it stands in a series, must be able to stand on its own as a compete story. But Becoming Human wasn't the full story. Honestly, I believe the climax of the story (in which all our POV characters collide) should have been the inciting incident. The book leaves off with several main characters racing off to find out the truth on Exilon 5, when in reality that was the story I expected in this book. It's when the story can actually begin. Coupled with the slow action and lack of tension, it felt like filler just to force the reader to buy the second book to get the story they were promised. All this book did was raise questions, and then answer a few questions no one asked, which only raised even more questions and did little to give any sense of a conclusion.
TL;DR: All in all, 2/5 stars. Definitely some potential, but some fundamental writing flaws hold the story back.