“Shattered Lands” by Alice Henderson Review

shattered lands

Shattered Lands

Skyfire Saga #2

Author:  Alice Henderson

Published:  2018

Book two of the Skyfire Saga by Alice Henderson builds on the interesting premise of Shattered Roads but also left me with a few more questions than the author may have intended. I really enjoyed the opening installment of this series as Henderson threw the reader into a new world with elements from all sorts of other recognizable science fiction futures and a blank slate lead character on the run. Here H124, Rowan, Raven, Byron and Willoughby from the first book are still on a mission to stop an asteroid from destroying the Earth with about a year of time to do so, but some of the questions as to who everybody is are starting to get filled in.

The best parts of this book for me were the destruction of much of the planet both by man made decisions in the past and asteroid fragments in the present (of the novel). We get some explanation for the night stalkers here, mysterious shadow creatures that hunt at night. The greed of those in power in the mega-cities also even leads to a somewhat credible reason for why some humans might prefer some asteroids to hit the planet. We get some added depth to the supporting cast, with Rowan and Byron providing the somewhat predictable love triangle, but Willoughby’s arc has been a very nice surprise. I predicted from his first appearance he’d end up being the bad guy in the book, but through two books in this series Henderson’s got me clueless as to which way he’ll end up at the conclusion of the series.

My main issues with this book come from the protagonist and a logistical question with the world Henderson’s built. H124 was such a blank slate that her being on the run in book one made a lot of sense for her discovering things as she went. Now that she’s in the middle of a mission to save the world, I can’t help but wonder why she’s in the middle of all these missions to secure vital technology when it’d seem there’re a ton of Rovers (the only people with scientific expertise in the world) more qualified to do so. The best explanation I can come up with is that the technology in her head gives her advantages on making entry to various secure areas, but all of that is done via a hack where she sends inconsistent commands to the locks. How have her credentials not been revoked, or how has this fix that she’s come up with not been exploited by thousands of others?

My increased attention on H124’s role in the story also has me wondering about the over population mechanics of the world. Apparently most of these cities have so many people that they are literally eating some of them to fight the hunger issue. However, H124’s indicated that children are no longer conceived or raised in the traditional sexual/family dynamics. I’d love for some more explanation as to the overpopulation boom contrasted with the societal constructs that the people live within.

I’m still on board for book three of the series, as Henderson has been increasing the stakes nicely with destruction of cities and deaths of supporting characters. My hope for book three is that the series gets back to more of the race for survival feel of the first book and as well as some additional world development.

3 star

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