Anthem's Fall by S.L. Dunn Book Review

I actually regret that I didn't finish reading this book when I received an eARC months before its release. As to why the temporary DNF (did not finish) status? Well, I find the first third part of the book so sloppy. The book was divided into two parts and I find Part One regurgitating that I've fallen in and out of the story for months. But upon reaching Part Two, there was never a moment that I put the book down. It was so engrossing that I was dismayed when I was met by a cliffhanger on the last page. I'm terribly sorry that I judged the book so early in the game.

Anthem's Fall, S.L. Dunn
Genre: Science Fiction, Superheroes
Authors: S.L. Dunn
Series: (No Name Yet) #1
Date Published: July 31, 2014
Publisher: Prospect Hill Press
Edition: paperback (I got a digital ARC via
ISBN13: 9780991622412
Size: 380

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Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.

Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.

Review: Disclaimer: I always have a problem of writing a short review. I can't help myself but write very long entries. I really tried to cut things off but I just really can't do it. I need help.

Part One

I don't like it when there's too much emphasis on the female protagonist's looks right at the beginning of a non-romantic story. It feels like the author is rubbing it in my face that her heroine is awesome or whatever that what it did to me was disliking (if not hating) her instead. The author could have saved describing her appearance for later, after her personality or characteristic traits have defined her as a person in the story. Because of this, there was no character for me to root for, making my journey of reading feel so empty, which is so bad. If the reader can't connect with the protagonist at the beginning of the book, then the book deserved to be thrown in the bin before the story even has the chance to bud.

Let me describe this female protagonist in few words. Kristen Jordan is a 21-year-old geneticist working with Nobel-prize winner Professor Vatruvia for developing the Vatruvian Cell and now in her third year of a doctorate program at Columbia University, you know the works. I don't want to describe how she looks lest I groan again. And oh, she also graduated 2 years of undergrad at MIT. Totally unheard of.

Now let me rant a little about this malarkey. I personally knew people who spent their freshman year in college ranging from 11 to 13 years of age (in Physics). I only knew one person ever allowed to accelerate her undergraduate degree in Physics (not those kids aforementioned) from a university. The institute only allowed her 1 semester to advance to her graduation. Not even the genius students were allowed to accelerate in their undergrad course and this book is claiming Kristen to spend only 2 years in a science course at MIT? BS! I could understand 3 years, but never 2 in any discipline of science.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Just for Kristen to be a legit genius, she also has to wear a pair of glasses

Disregarding this Kristen, the introduction of the story feels like watching the old film, Andromeda Strain. It was informative and inquisitive that the book's scientific mojo sound so credible and ethical philosophies riveting. Too bad, the introduction left a bad taste to my mouth.

In basic terms, this Vatruvian cell that I already mentioned is an artificial cell that turned into a functional cell. Putting on traits unto this cell by introducing genetic codes of a pre-existing species, the resultant product is far stronger than the species it copied its codes from. It's also an extremophile that can survive extreme conditions and is resilient to stress, and as far as I can tell, is self-sustaining.

The story's confusing because of the poorly-written transitions. It began in a contemporary world and the next thing you know, you're in this fantastical alien world. As in alien, in a planet of some galaxy far away. The transition just jumps into my face and I was not prepared. I thought (in an exclamatory manner), "Am I still reading the same book?"

Apparently, the kingdom of Anthem belongs in this alien world and since the book is titled "Anthem's Fall", then I was not lost. There's a parallelism occurring in the book, that is to say, if the contemporary world (earth) has Vatruvian cell, then Anthem has produced monsters, evil machines called Felixes, which look exactly like its own people, wreaking havoc in the planet and killing its inhabitants, save for its new emperor, Vengelis Epsilon and his two Imperial First Class soldiers.

As confusing as this review is to the book, now let me talk a bit about the people of Anthem called Primus.

In a way, the Primus are like Saiyans (of Dragonball) when they could fly from one place to the next for miles (with their bodies ripping a hole in a supersonic barrier as they explode towards the sky) and their planet ruined by a stronger alien force. For Americans, you could also think of them as Superman's kin, and the royal-blooded among them look like male celebrity pinups.

Just like the way-too-perfect female protagonist, the prince of the Primus, Vengelis Epsilon, a Sejero is already the strongest among his kind that it would seem there's no longer any room of improvement for him, only that he'd prove himself worthy of his warrior heritage. The existence of Felixes served to be a lesson to his kind's onerous self-important philosophies.

For the Felixes, you can think of the machines in the film The Matrix only that the latter exhibit evident intelligence as they're communicative. But perhaps, there's so much to learn yet of the former in the sequel.

Because I don't like both Kristen and Vengelis, I was not even halfway through the book and I'm rooting for the machines to just wipe them all out (along with the book).

So basically, all you have to do is imagine the two films I already mentioned for the plot in this book. Put some spaceships that travel at light-speed so Vengelis may reach another world (Earth) and then add Dragonball anime series in the equation for the fight scenes.

For certain, I don't like how the book started but I really love this line:
All new technologies are feared at first. But that fear can’t be allowed to hinder the search for potential in the unknown. Think about electricity, or the airplane o-o-or one of the first vaccines ever administered. Of course, they were a bit . . . scary at first. But think of how far they have brought civilization. There is nothing unethical going on here, just unadulterated pioneering.

I considered ending my review with this:

The book was meant to be fast-paced as it was laden with so much action. Unfortunately, I was bored to death.

Well, that was until my bias, Gravitas Nerol came into the picture a third part into the book. He was the sole reason my perspective of the book changed that I was able to finish it.

Part Two

Part Two was were all the fun began. Too bad, I can't jump to that part without reading the first. No doubt this book needed patience from a reader before he/she can truly appreciate and enjoy it.

There's a light touch of romance in the book and it was written really poorly especially for the female protagonist's part (Kristen Jordan). Or perhaps, maybe it's because I don't like her to begin with and she eventually made love with the guy that I like (Gravitas Nerol).

Suddenly, I just found myself amused by Vengelis. That was when he just found himself enticed by a beauty (Madison) in a strip club. Theirs is the romance that I'm waiting for. Even though I expressed I didn't like Vengelis on Part One, now I'm seeing him in a different light. I think I like him more than Gravitas. Funny how fickle my heart tends to be.

I definitely love Part Two of the book that I'm letting all of its flaws off the hook. But I'm not letting this one slide: it's just so implausible that while New York was under attack by some unforeseeable forces, the government seem not to act when the military forces are concerned until near the end of the book. They're there but just not visible. Or maybe just like in Dragon Ball Z, the brawl of warriors are too fast to follow that a minute of fighting span lots of pages that the government's actions are relatively too slow in comparison.

Overall, I enjoyed the book with all of its address on ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Social Implications).

Part 1
Part 2

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