Book Review: Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander
Genre: Science Fiction, Gaming Tie-In
Series: Mass Effect Andromeda #1
Publisher: Titan Books (March 2017)
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Join the Initiative, she said. It’ll be great, she said.
The Andromeda Initiative is the massively ambitious brainchild of one Jien Garson, an entrepeneur with lots of money and a wanderlust. The result? A 600 year journey aboard the Nexus from the Milky Way to the Andromeda Galaxy. Buuuut it turns out the brochures didn’t warn about all the wild and crazy things that could happen to a galaxy while everyone is sleeping for six centuries.
When the Nexus arrives in the Andromeda Galaxy, things are the opposite of good and Security Director Sloane Kelly is rudely awakened from cryosleep to find everything in disarray. Worse still, most of the Initiative’s leadership has been killed, including the enigmatic Garson. No one left has any of the pluck and gumption that can hold this mission together, even though the defacto leadership tries their best to do so.
Players of BioWare’s latest scifi adventure, Mass Effect Andromeda, are well aware of bad things that went on prior to our Pathfinder’s arrival in the Andromeda Galaxy, but there is little information in-game about the uprising that led to many people being exiled. Now’s our chance to fill in the blanks. But be warned. If you’re expecting fast-paced adventure, this is not where you’ll find it. For some, the book might seem slow, but mutiny doesn’t happen over night.
The story begins with the Nexus’ horrific encounter with what comes to be known as the Scourge, a deadly energy field that tears through the ship seemingly without rhyme or reason. When Kelly awakes, she finds herself fighting to survive. She is quickly joined by Superintendent Nakmor Kesh, the krogan engineer who knows the Nexus inside and out. Security. Engineering. That’s a pretty good start to trying to get things under control, but with Jien Garson dead, they are forced to turn to Colonial Director Foster Addison and the assistant accounting guy, Jarun Tann as the only other sources of leadership. As can be seen in-game, none of these people get along very well for various reasons, but surely, with survival and the mission at the forefront in all their minds, they can set aside differences to get things done?
Unfortunately, it is those differences, and the continued threat of the Scourge, that ultimately lead to the uprising — though not in terms as simple as the people turning on their leaders. As I said, the book’s pacing is slow, but I appreciate the time it takes to dig into the heads of the main characters and understand their role in the failure of the mission. Because, while they all will blame one another, they each know where they failed the mission too.
And the moral of the story is that none of this would have happened if Jien Garson had survived.
Of course, that’s just speculation, but it is interesting to see how much weight the book puts on Garson’s ability to convince tens of thousands of people to work together to begin this mission, and the belief that without her, it could not possibly succeed.
Overall, this book does not necessarily provide further insight into the uprising than can be gleaned from the wiki page, but for me, delving more deeply into gaming lore is all about better understanding character motivations. It’s less about the how we got here than the why. With that in mind, I am not at all disappointed. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so engaged in a book that I stayed up late to finish it, but when I got half way through, I simply had to know more. And by the end, I came out a little more heartbroken and sympathetic towards the people who tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, did it really matter? I guess only my Pathfinder will be able to tell…