Why I chose to read this: I’d like to think I am Arshad’s #1 fan so I eagerly devour anything and everything he publishes. I was fortunate enough to have been able to read this story as it was being written and edited into its final form and I have to say it was amazing to witness Arshad’s process for writing and revising. I have developed even more of an appreciation for his talent. Once the final version was published, I jumped at the opportunity to read it again; like all of Arshad’s stories this book gets better with every read.
Grounded after a rescue attempt in Earth orbit goes bad, Commander Martin Atkins of the Confederation Navy is approached by the Interscission Project, a consortium of civilian corporations on the verge of perfecting the technology to travel to another star. Despite his misgivings, the chance to get back in the pilot’s seat is too much to pass up, and he convinces his best friend and crewmate, Charles Davenport, to leave the military temporarily and join him as part of the crew of the Zenith, humanity’s first starship.
Edward Harlen is a brilliant young engineer, and a key player in the construction of the Zenith to take advantage of the untested technology of foldspace drive. But Edward has his own agenda in joining the project, and a bitterly personal score to settle with his boss, Trevor Sutton, a vendetta of which Trevor is entirely ignorant. When Edward’s sister Stella enters the picture and manages to secure a position on the project, all of Edward’s careful plotting is upset, and she might spell the downfall not only of his plans for revenge, but of the entire Zenith mission.
The spark of attraction between Edward and Martin is a complication that Edward can’t afford, but of which he can’t let go. For Edward knows the secret at the heart of the Interscission Project, the hidden potential of the technology that in the wrong hands could become the ultimate assassin’s weapon: the ability to rewrite history, not just once, but many times. As an unseen enemy moves to destroy them, and the body count multiplies in their wake, Martin and Edward must choose whether they will allow the possibility of love to challenge their destinies, or will they instead take up arms in a war to control the most ancient and terrible power in the universe.
Published March 10th 2014
Arshad Ahsanuddin is making me a liar. Again. I do not like sci-fi books, honestly, I don’t. I have no interest in space exploration, time travel, fancy spaceships full of the coolest technology…I could go on but I think you get the idea. And yet, this series is definitely full of sci-fi goodness but I LOVED it! Arshad is so skilled at world building and character development that he pulls an emotional investment out of me that no other sci-fi writer has been able to accomplish.
From the very first page, I was enamored with Martin. The reader is first introduced to him at a low point in his life and his career. Worried that he may be grounded indefinitely and feeling misplaced guilt about the disaster he could not prevent, you’d be hard pressed not to feel empathy for Martin. When he is given the opportunity to fly again, for a private organization looking to test some new technology instead of in his official capacity in the Confederation Navy, he jumps at the opportunity and drags his best friend Charles along. The relationship between these two is solid, they can both trust in the support and honesty of the other. This partnership changes form throughout the story and it is both heartbreaking and reaffirming in its progression.
Enter the mysterious Edward, the amazingly smart engineer with the unusual glasses. He has a definite agenda for Project Zenith and he is unwilling to compromise. Edward will let nothing get in his way, including his extreme dislike for his boss Dr. Trevor Sutton. Falling under Martin’s spell was definitely not part of Edward’s plan but he’s helpless to avoid it. Still refusing to compromise on his agenda, he has to find a way to shuffle them both without losing either.
From the blurb, we are left to believe that Zenith is Martin and Edward’s story but it’s so much more. Don’t get me wrong, these two characters are definitely the central focus but the supporting characters all play such a substantial role in the story I find it almost insulting to call them secondary characters. There’s Edward’s sister Stella with her desire for revenge, Trevor’s best friend Jennifer who has eyes for Charles, Martin’s brother Jacob who is on the outside of the project but still looking out for his twin, and finally the forever brave Lieutenant Thomas Knox, without whom there would be no future for any of this crew. Each of these “secondary” characters is so well-developed and so necessary to the plot that the story wouldn’t work without them. That is what I am most impressed with: Arshad’s ability to tell a story that is so dynamic, so full of depth of both plot and character. Honestly, I cannot think of another author who does it better. (See…told you I was his #1 fan!)
Zenith is chock full of action, mystery, suspense and yes, romance! Though most of the sex happens off page, I was not left feeling its absence. There is so much emotion, suspense, and adventure built into the story there isn’t much time to miss the hot sex, though there is a nice scene for that as well. 😉 Overall, this story is well-rounded and amazingly written; I plan to recommend it to everyone I know, whether they are sci-fi fans or not. I bet this series can have them rethink the genre…
Special Note: There is a book zero for this series, Nadir, which can be read either before or after Zenith. I recommend reading it both before AND after. It is a short read, only 41 pages, but so much of the story is set up/revealed in Nadir that I believe the reader will gain valuable insight into Zenith and the subsequent books of this series by reading it twice. Just my two cents!
10 out of 10 pots of gold