#SciFiMonth Book Review: Unreconciled by W. Michael Gear
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 4 of Donovan
Publisher: DAW (May 12, 2020)
Length: 496 pages
Author Information: Website
I make it no secret my love for the Donovan series, which I had initially thought was going to be a trilogy—and of course, the tidiness to the conclusion of the third book Pariah only reaffirmed that suspicion. As you can imagine though, I have never been so happy to be wrong! To say I was ecstatic when I discovered there was going to be a fourth book on the horizon is a massive understatement.
So now we have Unreconciled, in which readers get to return to the planet of Donovan and catch up with all the characters we’ve grown to know and love! As the story opens, the colony is abuzz with anticipation over the imminent arrival of Ashanti, a Corporation ship that had been given up for lost when it failed to show up years ago with its promised supply of resources and new settlers. But while they may have finally made it to their destination, the situation they bring is not good at all. Complications experienced during space travel had increased their journey time by a number of years which ended up stressing the life support systems on Ashanti, causing widespread starvation and death. In the midst of all this chaos, a man named Batuhan rose to power and gained a loyal following. Calling themselves the Unreconciled, they developed a set of beliefs about their place in the universe which also involved a twisted ritual that required eating their own dead in order achieve immortality.
The captain of Ashanti, horrified by the actions of the Unreconciled, did what he could to isolate and quarantine the cannibalistic cult. Convinced that he would be persecuted for his decision once they arrive at Donovan, he is thus completely baffled by the nonchalance displayed by Supervisor Kalico Aguila even after he confesses to all that he had done. For you see, what newcomers do not understand is that all rules go out the window when it comes to Donovan. Even after all these years, it is still a modest colony in the middle of the wilderness, with no central leadership or an organized set of laws. That’s because everyone is too busy trying to survive, fending off the killer fauna and flora. The situation with the Unreconciled is hardly the worst problem they’ve faced, though it does leave the question of where to put them. In the end, a remote satellite outpost by the name of Tyson Base is determined to be the best location to settle the cannibals, being out of the way and relatively defensible. However, what no one realizes is that the area is already inhabited—by something large, hidden, and dangerous, previously unknown to the colonists. And whatever it is, it is hungry and eager to hunt.
Honestly, I am seriously impressed and amazed by the W. Michael Gear’s storytelling skills. Who knows what other cool ideas this man has got kicking around in his head? We may be on book four, but the series is still going strong, bursting with the potential for more conflicts and relationship dynamics. That’s because Unreconciled not only introduces new plot threads, it also features many more additions to the cast with a fresh injection of characters from the Ashanti.
One of my favorite new characters is Derek “Tek” Taglioni, a privileged playboy hailing from one of the wealthy Corporate ruling families, who arrogantly thought he would make a name for himself by signing up for a mission to Donovan. There’s nothing quite like a few years of hardship aboard the Ashanti to quickly change his perspective on life, though. Much like Kalico, he was an elite who quickly learned just how much his name and money was worth once everything turned to shit—that is, absolutely zilch. I sense a promising future for his character, and I especially loved the snappy banter between him and Kalico, not to mention a potential romance with Talina. And then there’s Batuhan and his faithful companions, who are just off the walls cray-cray. Over-the-top their insanity may be, however, there was definitely an element of entertainment there. As well, mere words cannot describe the immense satisfaction I derived from seeing this psycho cult get completely overwhelmed by the brutal nature of Donovan.
Of course, we mustn’t forget the characters from the previous books either. Gear provides us plenty of time with familiar faces, and in addition to Tal and Kalico, we also get to catch up with Mark Talbot, Dan Wirth, Kylee and her quetzal Flute, and others. There are some groundbreaking shakeups to the cast as well, and I won’t lie, some of these changes were so shocking that they made me gasp out loud. In addition, there were plenty of twists and turns in the story, keeping the pace fast and exciting. The danger of Donovan’s vegetation and wildlife has been a constant theme in this series, and I am glad to see this trend continue. What our characters find lurking out near Tyson Base will give you chills! Needless to say, at no time did the momentum flag, as there were interesting new developments every step of the way.
All in all, I am so pleased with the direction the Donovan series is taking, and I am also glad the author decided to write Unreconciled as he’s clearly got a lot more ideas! Naturally, I am crossing my fingers for a fifth book, and I think chances are good since there’s no shortage of mysteries and questions to explore in this amazing world.