52Under2: The Sphinx Project by Kate Hawkings

The book I am reviewing this week for 52Under2 is The Sphinx Project by Kate Hawkings. It is about 72500 words long and is available on Smashwords for $2.99.

Congratulations to Kate Hawkings on the release of her novel.

Michaela is a genetically enhanced super soldier. She and three others like her escape from a secure military compound, hoping to have a normal life. Unfortunately, it is not to be as there were much worse things imprisoned at the compound and they’ve escaped too.

I was looking forward to this book because on reading the excerpt the concept reminded me a lot of the TV series Dark Angel, which I had enjoyed watching as a teenager. Now that I’ve finished reading The Sphinx Project I have a weird case of double-think going on. I enjoyed the book and I didn’t enjoy the book.

To be more specific, I enjoyed almost all of the individual parts of the book. It was very readable. The dialogue was good. It was well-written with no errors and good use of language. All of the individual scenes were vividly described and I felt the action scenes in particular were clear and realistic. I could see a lot of different threads being set up for future novels in the series (I believe that there will be five in total).

What I didn’t get along with was how all the bits and pieces of story worked together to create a whole novel – I wasn’t really sure what the story arc of the whole book was. It seemed more like three episodes – escape, run/intel-gather, rescue. The feeling of the sum of the parts not creating a satisfying whole was magnified tenfold by the abrupt ending. The book just stopped after the final action sequence. No denouement, no pause for breath, no sense of closure – the book was just over.

It was a shame, because I really wanted to enjoy this book. I liked the concept and I really enjoyed the first third. I just felt like I lost engagement with it after that. What I initially considered a plus – its similarity to a TV show I’d liked – turned out to be a minus. I’m not saying that everyone should come up with a completely original concept for a book – look at how many vampire books there are now – there’s definitely room for lots of genetically engineered super soldier stuff. But when I kept bumping into stuff that was the same as in Dark Angel and pointed to the resolution of the whole series being the very similar to the one that the TV show was heading towards when it got cancelled it kind of spoiled it for me.

List of similarities The Sphinx Project & Dark Angel:

  • Genetically engineered super soldiers bred in a military lab.
  • Feline DNA gets a big mention in main characters’ genetic cocktails.
  • They are experimented on by scientists.
  • The super soldiers suffer from seizures if not appropriately medicated.
  • The bad things/experiments-gone-wrong are kept in the basement (nomlies).
  • The main character is the most special of the special – she was bred for something extra like saving the world from…
  • … some sort of doomsday that is coming (through a cult in DA, through Mayan prophecies in TSP)
  • (Tenuous) Snake venom may or may not be involved as a ‘test’ of some kind. There was definitely a snake in TSP, yet to be revealed if immunity to it = super-specialness.

This book would probably be a great read for someone who wasn’t familiar with the prior art.

Overall, I’d give this book 2 out of 5.

Now I’m off to dig out my old Dark Angel DVDs

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