Thank you so much to Tor Books via NetGalley for the early read, all opinions are my own!
Well… I finally finished Rubicon even if it took me a month 😳. Let’s take a quick look at the book first then go into my thoughts:
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Rubicon
- Series: to be announced?
- Author: J.S. Dewes
- Publisher & Release: Tor Books, 03/28/23
- Length: 480 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for space opera and AI fans
Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:
J. S. Dewes, author of The Last Watch and The Exiled Fleet, returns with another science fiction space opera, Rubicon, that melds elements of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War with Edge of Tomorrow.
Sergeant Adriene Valero wants to die.
After enduring a traumatic resurrection for the ninety-sixth time, Valero is reassigned to a special forces unit and outfitted with a cutting-edge virtual intelligence aid. They could turn the tide in the war against intelligent machines dedicated to the assimilation, or destruction, of humanity.
When her VI suddenly achieves sentience, Valero is drawn into the machinations of an enigmatic major who’s hell-bent on ending the war―by any means necessary.
I don’t know why it was so hard to sit down and read this book. The long chapters didn’t help and I really only got enthusiastic about Rubicon in the final 150 pages, and then couldn’t put it down. I think it just has a LOT going on. It’s a character driven space opera, there’s military involvement, there’s a discourse on AI and ethics (my favorite), aliens, and just so much else happening.
Dewes did a lot of things well, like the characters and their trauma, coping and new relationships and team bonding. The military operations would go from zero to 100 real quick as did Adrienne’s relationship with the Rubicon.
I generally wanted more from the science in a lot of places. Dewes dedicated the book to a Warcraft character (also a great name for a dog) and turned the game’s resurrection protocol into chips and rezone areas. I think the overall concept was great and we did eventually get some of the “how” behind it. There are weapons and advanced tech, contact with alien vessels, and the terrible truth that in order to avoid becoming part of the hive mind, it’s best to just “wipe” or kill yourself in order to rezone instead of being captured. I liked learning about the alien history too and just wish she had connected it personally to… The big boss guy. I’m pretty sure there were a few more WoW things in the book but I could also be projecting.
After some thought, I’ve decided that I love the ending. Oh those poor characters LOL but I’m here for it. I’m afraid I won’t remember what happened when the sequel comes out (oh hey, publishers – make it clear when a book is going to be a series, yeah)? But man, oh man, that was an ending for you. 100% the ending bumped her rating up.
Overall: I can’t say any one thing that the book did wrong (although hopefully they edit out how many times someone’s lock of curly hair is mentioned) but I also can’t latch onto anything that grabbed me until the final plot line emerged. I do love themes of AI and finding humanity in these genres. It was a solid military sci-fi adventure with good characters and many different elements. I’d recommend for space opera fans if you aren’t squeamish about suicide and I will definitely read the sequel!
Thanks for checking out my early book review of Rubicon by JS Dewes! I received a free advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review and as always, all opinions are my own ⭐