Deviant Rising by Barnes and Preiman (The Amaranth Chronicles #1)

Note: I received an eARC of this book on Reedsy Discovery. You can view it, and other self-published works like it, here:

Imagine a world where a giant corporation uses its social media technology to influence its users while controlling and manipulating the world’s information. Sounds familiar, right? Now imagine what this scenario would be like 1,000 years into the future, with its technology spanning across galaxies. Such is the premise for Deviant Rising, book one of The Amaranth Chronicles, a fun sci-fi adventure with a summer blockbuster action-movie sensibility.

The Helix is more than just an earring, it’s a wearable search engine with a holographic display that has access to almost all data in the universe. While useful, it’s a controversial piece of tech that has created further rifts in class divide, among various other problems. Yet, shadowy figures behind the Helix are attempting to spread it across the galaxy with nefarious intentions. After a peaceful demonstration against the Helix turns deadly, our characters become entangled in a growing rebellion until they find themselves harboring a secret that could change humanity. Oh yeah, there’s also indestructible, cybernetically-enhanced monsters after them, so, uh, good luck with all that.

There were a few issues that stood out while reading this. There’s some minor stuff, such as a case of “insta-love” where two characters decided they’re in love only 24 hours after meeting each other. That level of forced romance is more grating than endearing. Another time, a character picks up a gun for the first time and learns how to shoot… and a few hours later, that character has a few kills to their name while winning a gunfight against a squad of trained military officers. Hmm. But the most glaring thing that bothered me about the writing was how little credit the authors seemed to give the audience. There was a tendency to overexplain everything. There was no use of subtext, no chance for the audience to think for themselves. Every character’s emotion and motivation were spoon-fed to us. I would have appreciated the story more if I wasn’t told what everyone was thinking all the time.

Above grievances aside, this is an enjoyable read that builds steam and gets better the further it goes along. The characters were likable and the authors have laid out plenty of world-building groundwork for the volumes ahead. Although it doesn’t add too many new ideas to the genre, I can recommend it for those who enjoy a fast-moving, action-heavy space opera that leaves the door wide open for many more adventures to come.

7/10 A fun sci-fi adventure with a summer blockbuster action-movie sensibility.

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