Author: Steph Bennion
Genre: science fiction
Price: $2.99 (ebook)
Publisher: WyrdStar Books
Point of Sale: Smashwords
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
Steph Bennion, the author of Hollow Moon, knows how to write an interesting blurb. Her book is a tale of “A kidnapping, a school band competition and an electric cat that eats everything in sight!” Targeted at the YA market, the story is of Ravana O’Brien, resident of the asteroid / spaceship Dandridge Cole, which is in orbit around Barnard’s Star. The inhabitants live inside the hollowed-up asteroid, which is spun to produce artificial gravity. Chapter 1 starts with Ravana trying to retrieve her electronic cat, and in the process witnessing a kidnapping.
Chapter 2 takes place on the planet Ascension, also orbiting Barnard’s Star, and highlights the exploits of the local high school band (all three of them) while on a field trip. There they discover the spaceship used in the kidnapping in Chapter 1, and eventually they meet up with Ravana. Hijinks ensue, taking place on several planets in two star system.
Hollow Moon is a fast-paced book, full of action. Characters don’t seem to spend much time catching their breath between adventures, of which there are a number. The tone of the novel is “Boys and Girls Own Adventure,” with more than a touch of British understatement, fitting for a British author. Despite the death-defying nature of some of these adventures, the book as a whole works due to the speed of events. I will also say that Ms. Bennion’s teenagers are very believable, and generally engaging.
The book is not without its flaws, however. First, I found the omniscient point of view a bit jarring. There’s nothing wrong with omniscient per se, but if you’re going to use it, it needs to be established firmly at the start of the book. Second, and more of a personal pet peeve, are the subject of aliens in science fiction. Basically, if you have aliens in your story, you should either establish fairly early on that aliens exist and are known or the story needs to be about the discovery of the aliens. Hollow Moon doesn’t follow either of those conventions, rather it tosses the aliens into the mix somewhat in the middle.
The last flaw is somewhat more serious. Without giving too much away, you can’t hide forever in a space ship. Sooner or later, every part of the ship will be visited by the crew. Critical areas, and power supply is always critical, will be visited more often and more carefully monitored.
Having said all of that, I found Hollow Moon a very enjoyable read. Ms. Bennion spent a good deal of time thinking about how her future world came to be, which is reflected in the names of planets and the cultures on them. Her characters are believable and interesting, and I look forward to more from her.