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Amber Houston was born light-years from Earth, aboard the enormous colony starship Dandelion. By the age of fourteen, she has spent her entire life training as a “Ranger,” ready for the day when she will be among the first humans ever to set foot on an alien world & build a new civilization.
When Dandelion suffers an emergency toward the end of its journey, Amber & her fellow young rangers are evacuated & land on the planet Newhome years ahead of schedule. While the adults left behind on Dandelion slow the ship & turn it around to come back—in eight years—Amber & her friends must build lives for themselves amid revelations that will change Humankind’s destiny forever.
Meanwhile, aboard the ship, secrets that were buried over three hundred years ago finally come to light…
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Having read this story before, and owning the print edition, but most of all having known Ctwelve and Hambone for several years...
RR is in for a ride here. These are the same guys who write Deathworlders, the J-verse series:)
so strap in, and hold on. Dis gunna be gud!
This story is a reverse marketing strategy by the author. They have already published the book on hardback, paperback, and amazon! (with ISBN: 9781735878706) They’re trying to gain readership by publishing the story for free on Royal Road and Reddit! I don’t know if this strategy will work (it probably will), but I’m just glad that I was able to read the story! 😁 Highly recommended if you’re a fan of HFY genre!
Reviewed at chapter three, may contain minor spoilers of the early chapters.
Plot - Summary - I was trying to write a good summary of the story but whatever I write I think the author has done a better job than me with his synopsis. So go read the synopsis!
One thing I’d like to point out is that the prologue seems a bit jarring and, uh, different from what’s expected in a typical Sci-Fi. Maybe it’s just because we’re still really early in the story and lacking the context to understand its significance. That’s okay!
Plot - Good Pacing - The pacing of the story is moderate. Not too fast, but not slow either. Actually, maybe a bit slow. That’s understandable since the author takes his time building the world our protagonist lives in, namely the culture inside Dandelion. Speaking about world building...
World Building - Thick layers - It got thick layers of it! I think this is one of the best stories on Royal Road with its world building. We’ve got the Dandelion starship, with its high technology and culture (the tale from the Ranger’s instructor? Brilliant). We’ve got the New Home, the destination of the ship (which we haven’t seen much yet). We’ve got earth, our old home (with sprinkles of a colossal war history thrown in; also hints of alt human races in chapter three). All in all, a pretty solid world building.
Character - Huge Cast, Multiple Leads, Many PoV - The first three chapters focused on introducing us with our main cast of the story: Amber, Roy, Nikki, D.A.N.I., the captain of the ship, ranger instructor, and the rangers. There are multiple point-of-views throughout the story and so far it was executed brilliantly. The rich world building was influenced by the multiple PoV we experienced. In a way, it reminds me of Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris’ format of changing the point-of-view every chapter or so. I expect the future chapters will have our main characters face their own challenges that interlaps and interacts with each other.
Grammar and Style - Long chapters, Professionally edited - The prologue and the first chapter is quite short, but chapter two and three are really long. It’s because there are a couple of point-of-view shifts inside the chapter, and that’s okay! I really enjoy reading the story even though it has long chapters. There are no grammar mistakes I noticed, probably because the book is already published, and that usually means it’s already professionally edited. Excellent!
My Issues (HFY rant) (spoilers up to chapter three)
As with every other HFY story, my issue runs with how the humans were unbelievably painted as a good race. I’ve had trouble suspending my disbelief with how the human society and culture depicted in the story. It seems implausible to me that no major conflict has happened within the 284 years of its voyage. Humanity is just not that utopian! There’s bound to be some crime happening right? Yes, the story actually tried to address the issue by saying they keep crime and inequalities low through AI’s control of population (keeping it under a million souls, the ‘goldilock zone’).
But! If that’s the case, it breaks another plot point for me.If the omnipresent AI is capable of controlling the birth rate of a million people while doing a billion other maintenance on the ship, how come, did our protagonist still have a broken home?!
A utopian society aboard the starship requires a good civilization to function and be sustainable (on top of the AI). A good civilization has its foundations in stable families. Without a stable family, the civilization will collapse in and of itself. No culture and sports to preserve, because each member of the society is busy working on their family issues! The AI (if it’s that powerful) should have no problem predicting each couple's compatibility and therefore ensures a happy marriage and family.
A broken family is actually the least thing you would expect from a society that runs so well so that the average human physical and mental capability went up compared to three centuries ago. Either have the utopian society, or the broken family. You can’t have both.
Honestly, this is just my nitpick for every HFY story. I think there’s a reason that so many fictions depict humanity as the real monster. Because deep down, we know it’s true. Humans are the most lethal creatures on earth - google it if you don’t believe me! I still think the story is well written and worth reading. If this doesn’t really bother you, then go read it!
Conclusion - A well executed HFY story, with artificial intelligence, out of the world high technology, multiple lead characters, and awesome world building. On top of that, it’s professionally edited, written by an experienced author, and it’s FREE! What are you waiting for? Go read the story!
Final Score - 9/10. Well written and free!
P.S. Do you agree with my reviews? Are there anything you disagree with? Instead of only disliking the review, help me write a better review by sending me a constructive criticism to my reviews! You can do so from this link: https://www.royalroad.com/private/send/62683 😄 Thank you!
I generally spend 8+ hours a day listening to audiobooks while I work but I also read a lot of written works for pleasure. I picked up reading the author's Deathworlder series on Reddit and eventually Patreoned to show my support. When the authors announced a new, YA book, I preordered it on Audible based on my experience with their previous works - and I wasn't worried knowing it was supposed to be a series because a lot of the stories I read or listen to are incomplete series, several releasing only a chapter a month.
I was expecting it to be good, and even interesting. I wasn't expecting to be annoyed at the end of the book that the next volume isn't out yet. I also decided to purchase physical copies of the book, one for my home & others for local libraries, that I intend to donate when book 2 is released.
It's a little slow to start - "world building" but less in the sense of the actual world and more in a societal "how did we get here and where are we headed" angle. Without trying to give anything away, the story takes a semi-predictable arc that is still entirely enjoyable with several chances for later curves thrown in, but I don't expect anything really story shattering because this is at its heart a Young Adult directed story and not one aimed at hardcore scifi /fantasy readers.
If you want a (farily) quick and highly enjoyable read, this is a good one to add to your list.
I want to say that it should be expected of a book that's already in the market, but that's not fair to the story. It's a good read and if you like it, support the author.
I did take one star away because there was too much telling of the twins abilities instead of showing at the beginning, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story.
My thanks to the author.
My only issue is that you can see the ending coming from a mile away. Other than that it was a decent story with reasonable characters, although a couple of them were very obviously lifted directly from the Deathworlders series, which I think is a better read. The plot of this also was eerily similar to The Deathworlders, which was a bit sad because I think Mr Hambone and Co could stand to branch out a bit.
i have finally gotten your book about 2 days ago (ordered paper back 2-3 weeks ago) and have now finished it, can't wait for the next one, 1 thing I do like in a book is a map of the world. I will definitely buy your next one and most likely the whole series.
been rereading deathworlders after I finish your book know any other authors that I might be interested in
Dandelion is a hard sci-fi novel in the tradition set by many beloved mainstream authors. Clarke "The Songs of Distant Earth" comes quickly to mind, with a few dashes of Heinlein or LeGuin.
This is not the typical web serial you can usually find at RR, bloated and meandering. It's a straight, to the point novel, with very little fat to burn (perhaps some of Roy's physique descriptions from so many different points of view end up getting a bit redundant.)
The style is spot on, absolutely nailing the tone of the genre. Easily pro level, you could believe you are reading a minor work from a consecrated author. Grammar, prose and dialogue are fully competent, everything flows easy.
Storywise, the many points of view work well to weave all the different plot threads, which are rich, varied without getting confusing and touch on different tropes of the genre. More than full marks here, I'd award 6-stars if I could: it's not an easy thing to combine richness, clarity and conciseness.
Characters are serviceable. They work well to carry the story onwards, but they fall into stereotypes and are not particularly relatable. The usual trope of making the MC something of a bookworm to build a rapport with the reader falls short.
Overall, I found Dandelion too derivative to remain memorable, didn't find anything in it that sets it apart from any other space opera about world colonization. But the craftmanship the authors display is most excellent and their deep knowledge of the genre shows.
Thanks for sharing, and good luck in future projects!