Hello, hello! It’s the last Wednesday of November (can you believe it?), which means it’s time for another book review. This month, I requested something a little different from my usual genres: sci-fi. I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I don’t read much of it, so I decided to give it a shot. Today, I’ll be talking about The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell. It was published on the 27th by Tor Books, which is an imprint of Macmillan. I must thank them and NetGalley for allowing me access to an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). Without further ado, let’s get to the review!
The Razor follows a group of prison inmates as they team up and learn to count on each other to survive after their jailers randomly up and leave the planet. The main focus is on Flynn, a brilliant scientist who was framed for murder and subsequently sent to serve out the rest of his life on the Razor. Along the way, he teams up with Key (a gang member who attempts to kill him), Maddox (a disgraced Ranger with nothing left to live for), Raelyn (a doctor who made a grave mistake), Zane (a government experiment gone rogue), and Gable (a mad scientist). Sounds pretty routine for a sci-fi adventure, right? It is.
The book is comprised of 3 parts totaling 78 relatively short chapters and clocks in at just under 400 pages. I bring this up because the way the book is laid out makes it feel like a super fast read. Getting through 4 or 5 chapters a day may seem like a lot, but by the time I was done, it was 2 and a half weeks later. I actually prefer a lot of shorter chapters when I’m reading because it makes that “just one more” urge more acceptable. But don’t be fooled. This isn’t a quick read.
As far as the story goes, it’s fast paced and has a lot going on. The plot is interesting, but if you don’t pay attention it’s easy to get lost. I had to reread some stuff a couple of times. I’m no scientist, but some of the stuff going on seemed shaky at best. If you’re willing to trust in the science as explained, it’s a fun story. From a writing perspective, it’s well paced and engaging. However, the POV shifts… a lot. In earlier chapters, the POV shifts are pretty isolated with one character per chapter, but after everyone meets up, things shift back and forth within chapters and it gets a bit muddled. Sometimes it took me a minute to realize “that thought was Key’s, not Flynn’s,” or whatever.
My main problem with this book is the characters. I feel nothing for them. The plot moves so fast that there really isn’t time for character development, but if you watch any sci-fi, you get the gist of who they’re supposed to be. It’s all pretty generic. The only one I actually kind of liked is Zane, but even he feels like a cookie cutter character. He just happens to be the type I gravitate toward. Then, there is Gable. I don’t particularly feel like she is necessary. Everything she did could have been done by one of the others. It mostly feels like she’s there to even out the number of females vs. males.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the story enough that I’ll check out book 2 when/if it comes out. But if some major character development doesn’t take place, it’s the kind of story I’ll eventually get bored with.
Overall, I’d rate it 3 out of 5 stars. I like it, but it doesn’t impress me. If you’re into sci-fi and enjoy a fast plot, pick it up. If you like a better balance of characters and plot, this probably isn’t for you.