Book Review: Signal to Noise by Talya Andor

Posted: October 5, 2013 by Nikyta in 3.5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Nina's Reviews
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Reviewed by Nina

16010093TITLE: Signal to Noise
AUTHOR: Talya Andor
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
LENGTH: 194 pages, 65,000 words approx.
BLURB: It’s been three years since the Incursion; three long years since Bastian and his twin brother Theo became the sole survivors on the planet Noise. Their distress calls have gone unanswered, and they are running out of supplies. They have no one but each other. And when the long-awaited rescue finally arrives, it brings with it complications that make being alone and forgotten look easy.

REVIEW:

The premise of this book is nothing short of amazing. Twincest? Not-too-hardcore sci-fi? A tiny bit of horror? Sign me up. I’m happy to say the execution mostly lived up to the novel’s promise.

This can’t be a long review, because the book is short and the story is full of small and big twists. All I’m going to do is talk about some of the things I liked and about a few I didn’t.

To start with, I loved the characters. They are all easy to distinguish and have a very characteristic personality. From the twins to Captain Bane, from Lucky to Ventura (oh, Ventura), Striker, Millena; despite the shortness of this book, I grew to love them all – and mourn some of them, as was expected, because you can’t put a dozen people in the middle of what is virtually an alien minefield waiting to mass-explode and have them all get out of it unscathed, can you?

They’re well-rounded and ambiguous, and they had me second guessing myself and them and biting my nails, fearing their actions almost as much as I did the Armors’; their personalities are basically one large swathe of grey, with little almost-white corners of compassion in the hearts of the most ruthless of them and tiny black holes of prejudice where compassion is supposed to reign. Their dynamics are rich and varied, also due to the fact that they’re essentially cooped up together in a relatively small space for days on end, creating friction and tensions.

The twins’ character development, weirdly, is the most lacking. Both Theo and Bastian have clearly defined and extremely likeable personalities, but the reader ends up spending more time with the “rescue” (yes, I am so teasing you) team than with the people who are supposed to be the main characters. Their romance is already in full swing and most definitely not unstable when the story begins, so it is far from being the focus of this novel.

On to the sci-fi part of the equation. People, the Armors? I won’t say they scared RL-me, but book-me was quaking in her boots, particularly since I might have a tiny smidge of entomophobia. These creatures have all the repulsiveness and numerousness of insects, but they’re also big and possessed of actual decent-sized brains. Think it can’t possibly get any more horrific? That’s what I thought too, at the beginning. But they can, and they will.

It’s all good, really, not counting some minor niggles. Except for the sex scenes.

I never thought I’d do this, but I skimmed. Why were they so cringe-worthy? Was it the purple prose? (Possibly.) Was it the vein-clogging sweetness? (Just as probable.) Was it the incongruousness of frantic, hormonal teenage loving in the middle of a Planet Federation-proportioned alien invasion? (Very likely.) Whichever of these it was, I just. Couldn’t. Do it.

Apart from that, the romance itself is not fleshed out – it just is, was for years, and will be for years to come. There’s no question as to why, or how (though both are quite obvious, considering how Theo and Bastian spent their early adolescence). The twins’ protectiveness of each other is heartwarming, particularly since it’s easy to see how young they are, yet how battle-hardened, but short scenes showcasing exactly that are pretty much all there is to their love story.

One last complaint I have is that there were scenes, feelings, situations that would have made for a much more satisfying experience had they been explored more in depth – and there was plenty of space to do that, given the length of this book.

Summing up, this is not a romance. It’s a short sci-fi story with a colourful cast, nerve-wrecking tension and horrific baddies, with a minor subplot involving a gay couple. Don’t go into this expecting a grand love story, because you won’t get that. What you can expect is entertainment and tension – which I enjoyed immensely, which in turn is why this 3.5 star rating will be rounded up to 4 on GR. And I’m not usually that generous.

Nina rates it – 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINKS: Less Than Three Press :: Amazon

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Nina is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: NINA’S REVIEWS
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