After whittling our initial 28-book allotment down to three, my SPSFC2 team has received six more semifinalists from other judging teams. Our scores of these six new books, along with our original three semifinalists, have combined with with 81 other scores (nine each from nine teams) to determine the SPSFC2 finalists, and three of our group have indeed found themselves among the final seven.
Today, we’ll be looking at one of those three, the first entry in a sprawling space epic: Those Left Behind by N.C. Scrimgeour.
Jay’s Review and Rating
There’s plenty of good here, with a fascinating setup and a smooth, high-quality writing style that makes Those Left Behind a pleasure to read. But there are too many moments that break that pleasant immersion, with subplots that don’t have room to breathe and huge revelations that feel inadequately set up. Throw in an ending that drives intrigue for the sequel but fails to provide closure on the motivating questions of the opening book, and it doesn’t bring quite enough to win me over. I’m intrigued, and I’d be willing to check out more of the author’s work in the future. But Those Left Behind tries to do too much, so even with the gripping narrative style, the result is a mixed bag.
Jay has rated Those Left Behind 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Josh’s Review and Rating
The result is a book that I got absorbed in and enjoyed reading but found myself asking questions about things and being partially thrown out of the narrative a bit too often for my liking, resulting in an unsatisfying finish. Add in the fact of how much of this book is cribbed from Mass Effect and well, I have a hard time recommending this too much, even if I wouldn’t recommend against it.
Josh has rated Those Left Behind 6.5/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Matt’s Review and Rating
Matt was not able to read and score Those Left Behind before the completion of the round. His score will be listed as Did Not Attempt, which does not affect the overall rating.
Sarah’s Review and Rating
With an intriguing premise and a lot of nuanced character building, this series starter is very intentional in its ambition. So many interesting questions posed regarding cyber augmentation, morality, war, identity – almost too much for one book to hold. While I’m invested in all the themes and multi-dimensional characters facing extremely high stakes across the universe, it was hard at times to follow all the storylines. But for those seeking a new expansive space opera, this offers a creative and thoughtful book one.
Sarah has rated Those Left Behind 7/10.