SPSFC Semifinalist Review: Sunset by Arshad Ahsanuddin

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) Team Tar Vol On has sent our two semifinalists to a pair of other teams, and in return, we’ve gotten four new semifinalists to review and rate. Our scores will combine with those of these two other teams in order to select two books to advance to the finals, starting in mid-April. As in the first round, a seven-person team full of idiosyncratic preferences means we will rarely all agree on a particular book, so we’ve included review snippets in order to help each book find its audience. Additionally, every book at this stage was loved by at least one other team, so there’s always going to be a sterling review to check out outside of Team Tar Vol On.

Today, we’re looking at a queer, romantic, science fantasy epic that drew rave reviews from EdpoolSunset by Arshad Ahsanuddin.

Azrah’s Review and Rating

I thought the already established relationships were more believable to the new ones that were formed as there are also a lot of time jumps so again we don’t really see these relationships evolve naturally on page but even then I found it hard to fully connect with any of the characters. There are some good moments of action but I personally thought all the backstory and lore was a lot more interesting than whatever was going on during the present timeline.

Azrah has rated Sunset 4/10. For more, check out her full review.

Bowen’s Review and Rating

I loved the big, grudgy, emo, soap opera of it, but it tried to do too much, especially on the exposition front. For audio listeners, I was also very impressed with the voice actor in the audiobook.

Bowen has rated Sunset 6.75/10.

Dave’s Rating

Dave has rated Sunset 4.5/10.

Jay’s Review and Rating

Sunset has a really compelling main idea, and the quality of the opening proves that the author has the writing chops to bring the story to life. But bringing the story to life requires some judicious decisions about which storylines to spotlight and which to cut, and the structure of Sunset muddied things more than it vivified them. There’s something here, but it’s buried behind a book trying to do too much too soon.

Jay has rated Sunset 4.5/10. For more, check out his full review.

Mark’s Review and Rating

 Very good and detailed world building. Very good and detailed characters, too. Clearly, the author put in a ton of work. Very well done. It was not prudent to include all of it in the book, however. Knowing the history of all of every race in the story was interesting, to a degree. The story would have been better served by including only the details necessary to the story and going deeper into the characters emotionally. The reader should have been wrapped up in the emotions churning between the characters. This story is a romance, after all. Unfortunately, it’s a fantasy romance, as opposed to a science fiction romance.

Mark has rated Sunset 4/10.

Paromita’s Review and Rating

Overall this was missed potential for me. The writing was alright but the main issue with this book was that it was all over the place. Another point is that in my reading, this is fantasy, not SF. Presumably this is Book 1 of a fantasy/space opera series and that is fine, but there were just too many characters that were not given enough time including the main ones. Along with a lot of exposition regarding the world (which I personally am not a fan of), this frenetic jumping around made for a very disorienting reading experience, unfortunately not in a positive sense.

However, I feel this book showed a lot of potential. The vision and ambition in the book was very high, where it faltered was the execution. I would give it a 6/10 but given the lack of SF elements, it will be reduced to 5/10 for me.

Paromita has rated Sunset 5/10.

Rari’s Review and Rating

There was just too much going on with this book. Too many storylines, plot threads, character arcs, past and present timelines, that it got quite confusing. A lot of it could have been deleted with no impact on the overall plotline, but as it was there was way too much flab for me to appreciate the story or Nick’s character arc.

All along, I had the sense of a book that I really would have loved if it had some focus, but since it’s focus was as scattered as my ADHD brain, I wasn’t able to.

The beginning: great. The end: brilliant. The middle, however was eminently forgettable for me.

Rari has rated Sunset 5/10. For more, check out her full review.

Official Scores

Azrah 4
Bowen 6.75
Dave 4.5
Jay 4.5
Mark 4
Paromita 5
Rari 5
Team 4.82


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