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About Pariah by W. Michael Gear

The third book in the thrilling Donovan series, a sci-fi action adventure set on a treacherous alien planet where corporate threats and dangerous creatures imperil the lives of the colonists.

Corporate assassin Tamarland Benteen’s last hope is the survey ship Vixen. With a load of scientists aboard under the supervision of Dr. Dortmund Weisbacher, Vixen is tasked with the first comprehensive survey of the newly discovered planet called Donovan. Given that back in Solar System, Boardmember Radcek would have Benteen’s brain dissected, he’s particularly motivated to make his escape.

The transition that should have taken Vixen years is instantaneous. Worse, a space ship is already orbiting Donovan, and, impossibly, human settlements have been established on the planet. For Dortmund Weisbacher, this is a violation of the most basic conservation tenets. Donovan is an ecological disaster.

Down on Donovan, Talina Perez takes refuge in the ruins of Mundo Base with the wild child, Kylee Simonov. But the quetzals are playing their own deadly game: one that forces Talina and Kylee to flee farther into the wilderness. Too bad they’re stuck with Dortmund Weisbacher in the process.

Back in Port Authority, Dan Wirth discovers that he’s not the meanest or deadliest man on the planet. Tamarland Benteen is making his play for control of PA. And in the final struggle, if Benteen can’t have it, he’ll destroy it all.

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Review of Pariah

Pariah is about the intense struggle between humans and all their adversaries – the hazards of space travel, alien flora and fauna, and of course, other humans. The colonization of the planet Donovan (named for the first man that was eaten by a quetzal upon landing) serves as the foundation to the gripping illustration of these human struggles. Spoiler — humanity doesn’t always win.

Throughout the series, there has been a deplorable lack of characters to empathize with. The exceptions for me are Talina and Kylee. Talina has remained the stalwart anti-heroine, but in Pariah, the quetzal TriNA in her system has her having waking dreams that are a danger to those around her. So Talina sets out for Mundo base, and hooks up with Kylee, the only other character that I empathize with. These two make an interesting team, even if they don’t quite mesh. It’s a short-term partnership. But right now, they don’t have any other options. Talina and Kylee share the quetzal connection which also makes them the most interesting characters as they grow into their hybrid status.

Shig and Yvette are not bad characters, but there is not much depth to those characters. Their background and motivation lack details. Shig is an interesting spiritual man and the story could do with a little more Shig. While these two do have critical roles in Pariah, they remain mostly in the background. In the meantime, corporate leader Kalico has grown into the leader we always hoped she could be. Still on the other side of the fence from the original settlers, but finding wisdom in working things out. She may be the one to watch in future installments.

With Pariah, two more fairly despicable characters are added to the mix. Tamarland Benteen, aka, the Scorpion. Killer, plotter, ruthless, truly evil. And Dortmund Weisbacher, the highly-educated biological conservationist with a gigantic ego and absolutely no common sense. These two make the bad guy from books 1 and 2, Dan Wirth, look like a nice guy.

Character-driven, the author has given us an amazing crowd of individuals to focus on in Pariah. But I really needed more of the book to focus on characters I liked. By the time I was done reading Pariah, I was pleased I did not have to put up the reprehensible anymore.

From the first book, this series always reminded me of the SyFy TV show Defiance. Both display a lack of city planning in the scrabbled together buildings, seemingly innocuous leader(s), security with an attitude, cash/trade business, and multiple people playing games for power in a true frontier atmosphere.

Despite the lack of characters to connect with, I still give Pariah a 5-star rating. I realize a lot of people love to hate the bad guys.  And I appreciate the fact that Donovan’s plan for success is constantly being threatened makes the story difficult to put down. Captivating, haunting, breathtaking and imaginative, Pariah is a frontier tale for the SciFi genre.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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