Audiobook Review: The Final Equinox by Andrew Mayne
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: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Book 2 of Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (September 13, 2022)
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
Narrators: Jennifer O’Donnell, Will Damron
I have certain expectations from an Andrew Mayne novel. That I would have to big time suspend my disbelief, perhaps. Or that things would be over-the-top bonkers or off the wall insane. What I didn’t expect, though, was to feel—GASP!—bored?
But that’s exactly what I thought of The Final Equinox. Not all of it, fortunately, but there were good chunks that left my mind zoning out and thinking of other things. It’s quite possible that the subject matter and themes might have been a factor. Because for the first time, a Theo Cray story got away from the murder mystery and hunting down a killer format to focus on something a bit more science-fictiony and out there—literally. The story begins with our favorite computation biologist and weirdo genius being summoned to a mysterious facility out in the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert. No one will tell him anything about why he’s there until he agrees to sit through a presentation by the facility’s director, and out of sheer curiosity, Theo agrees.
And what he ends up learning is mind-staggering. For years, a billionaire named Thomas T. Theismann has been pouring his vast fortune and endless resources into his obsession of finding and making contact with alien life. At long last, it appears he has succeeded. A signal has been detected at the outer edges of the solar system, and now, along with group of other experts and supersmart individuals, Theo has been asked to help find the source. Later on, he discovers that he’s also there to replace another scientist, who recently killed himself. Feeling out of his depth, Theo covertly contacts his girlfriend Jessica Blackwood to ask her to look into the suspicious death. As their separate investigations gradually come together to form a larger disturbing picture, Theo and Jessica wonder how all of these strange happenings could be related.
At first, I was excited at the premise of The Final Equinox. Granted, it seemed a little outside the scope of Theo Cray’s usual adventures, but ever since he got together with Jessica Blackwood, his horizons have been broadened and I could hardly resist a story related to the search for first alien contact.
However, I ended up being less than impressed by the results. But first, let’s start with the positives. The globetrotting aspect of this series is one thing I’ve been enjoying greatly, and the trend continues here, with Theo and Jessica each setting off on their own assignments which take them to some fascinating, uncanny places. And for all that Theo and Jessica may seem like an odd pairing, I do like their unique dynamic, which makes for some interesting and witty conversations. Their different backgrounds also lead them to bring different strengths to the series. Theo, who is socially awkward, is at his best when he’s dealing with data, and not people. Jessica, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Being raised in a family of magicians have taught her how to be a master of deception and play to a crowd’s emotions, skills that make it possible for her to blend into any social situation. Together, they make a formidable team.
And now for the not so great. I mentioned losing interest during certain parts of the story, and this was not exclusive to just one character’s POV. Overall, I enjoyed Theo’s chapters slightly more than Jessica’s, simply because I prefer his voice (audiobook narrator Will Damron had a lot to do with that too—he’s superb). Despite her unconventional childhood and extraordinary background, Jessica has always struck me as more of your standard mystery series heroine. Contrast that with Theo, whose personality makes his POV very distinctive and engaging to read. That said, even Theo’s chapters let me down this time. We’ve gone deep diving into heavy science and technology topics before in previous books, but the info-dumping and techo jargon in one just got waaaay out of hand. As I was listening to this audiobook, more than once I found my attention drifting, the first time this has ever happened to me with an Andrew Mayne book.
Don’t get me wrong, ultimately The Final Equinox was worth reading. Obviously, I’m not going to give away anything about the ending, but it was a good one. But boy, I do hope the author will go back to stories more in the vein of murder mysteries with his brand of wild action and fun shenanigans. I just hope this book isn’t setting the trend for future Theo Cray & Jessica Blackwood novels or I just might start regretting the two of them ever getting together! The good news is, the audiobook edition, which I was lucky enough to review, was a decent listen. Will Damron always delivers, he’s the perfect Theo Cray, and Jennifer O’Donnell also does a fantastic job as Jessica Blackwood.
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