Book Review: Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor (February 3, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Echo 8 is the first novel I’ve read by Sharon Lynn Fisher, but I’d known from before that her work is usually characterized by mixture of Science Fiction and Romance elements. That sounded just fabulous to me, and well, ultimately I believe one’s overall enjoyment of this book will entirely depend on how much you prefer in your balance of each genre!
With themes like alternate worlds and parapsychology at its core, Echo 8 follows a brilliant young researcher named Tess Caufield in a near-future where doppelgangers have begun appearing mysteriously and randomly from a parallel universe. As far as Tess and her team could tell, these shadowy “Echoes” are from an alternate earth that has been struck by an asteroid, but how these hapless individuals ended up being here, and how to keep them alive on this world after they have teleported are questions scientists are still trying desperately to work out.
However, Echoes also have the unfortunate tendency to drain the life energy from people they come in physical contact with. This consequently led to the assignment of FBI special agent Ross McGinnis to Tess’s security detail, much to her chagrin. This arrangement is further strained when Jake, the latest Echo to dislocate to Seattle Psi from the other earth touches Tess and almost kills her, setting off a chain reaction that will have profound significance for all three lives.
Remember what I said earlier about how you like your balance of sci-fi and romance? After finishing Echo 8, I’ve determined that this book is without question heavier on the latter. The scientific theory and technology involved in here is sufficiently explained but clearly written in a way so that the reader can enjoy the story without having to look beyond the surface details. Those used to harder sci-fi with a stronger emphasis and comprehensive look at the technical aspects won’t really find it here. On the other hand, if you’re fancying yourself a good romance, then you definitely won’t be disappointed.
No question about it, Fisher has a real talent for writing hot, sweaty, passionate lurrrrrve. Perhaps a bit too fast and intense for me, if I’m to tell the truth. Heck, I’m all for scorching love scenes, and I’m not exactly a fan of crawling slow burn romances either, but I’d prefer to see a relationship proceed at more of a simmer. In Echo 8 we’re thrust into a complicated love triangle almost right away, and the first time two characters get together it happened very quickly, too quickly for me to be truly convinced of their feelings for each other.
In general, the weight of the romance also came at the expense of story and character development. Often I could tell that the plot yearned to be something bigger, something more, but all told it ended up being rather straightforward and predictable. There’s not much depth to Tess beyond her obsession to help Echoes and her complete lack of concern over whether or not she gets killed trying to do it. This drives Ross crazy of course, but his soft spot for Tess means it never takes much to talk him into letting her do anything she wants. We go through this cycle repeatedly with these two characters, while Jake pines for Tess and struggles with his feelings for someone he knows he can never have…or can he? Like the science fiction aspects, we’re given just enough information about the three main characters to appreciate the twisty relationship dynamics behind their…unique situation. The level of romantic drama here is extremely satisfying, but once again, some readers might find themselves wishing for more out of the plot and characters.
In sum, Echo 8 has a very interesting and ambitious premise, even if it doesn’t quite reach its full potential. It is first and foremost a Romance, and in this area the book indubitably excels, practically burning up the pages with its fast-paced love story and red-hot desires flying all over the place. It’s perhaps too strong on the romantic side of things for my tastes, but I suspect those readers who are more inclined towards that will enjoy this novel very much. Everything about it is designed to appeal to genre fiction readers who enjoy a very healthy dose of romance, and without a doubt it is successful in this endeavor. And I have to say, even with the issues I mentioned above, I liked this book and found it to be a fun read.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tor Books!