Review: The Antithesis by Terra Whiteman

Justice Alezair Czynri is the newest recruit of the Jury, a group of powerful beings who reside in Purgatory and enforce the Code between Heaven and Hell. However, Justice Czynri could not have come at a worse time. A storm lays just over the horizon…

One that brings with it a war.

Review

If only I could begin all reviews of books I enjoyed immensely with ‘I love books‘ or ‘I love reading‘, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve done that too many times already. So I’ll stick with – I loved this book. There are so many elements of The Antithesis (a.k.a TA) that I got a kick out of; love in this instance is more like an umbrella term.

Writing this review has been laborious. I’m one of those readers who can’t launch into the next read straight away, putting off the review for later. I must do it beforehand and that’s where the labour lies. I can’t think of a time where I’ve wanted to write up a review less when I’ve relished a read. There’s a definite urge to say to hell with it, pick up the next copy, and learn more about all the characters.

I think it’s safe to blame that mostly on the ending. What a cliffhanger! Alezair’s story is an engrossing one and although we’re given a glimpse into other lives and background information on what is going on with Alezair via short stories, we’re still left dangling at the end. Fortunately the cliffhanger wasn’t a frustrating one, I didn’t feel compelled to throw my book across the room (lucky seeing as I was reading an eBook, but I wouldn’t have done that anyway), even so I was left with ants in my pants.

TA was not what I was expecting insofar as Science Fiction goes. It’s easy to place it into the Science Fiction genre, but after that I found it difficult to sub-categorise, therefore making it interesting when trying to describe it to someone else. There are elements of dark fantasy, definitely action and adventure, and I’d even go as far as political literature at times. This is an epic tale, but not of Space Opera proportions. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of world building going on and visiting other areas of the Universe, but the heart of the tale is more centralised.

There’s a uniqueness to TA. I believe in this day and age it’s a rarity to come across stories with a new spin on a reused concept. Terra Whiteman has taken such an idea and completely reshaped it. I love where and how the story is set because I’m not religious. I greatly appreciate it when someone takes a potentially religious construct and can completely turn it on it’s head without taking the piss out of it. TA isn’t a religious story at all, but it does utilise the concept of angles Vs demons, Heaven Vs Hell, to relay a story of war and struggle, both internal and external.

The characters themselves are quite memorable. While the main story follows the journey of Alezair becoming a Vel-Haru, there’s so much else going on during the tale leaving enough room for other stories to form. The side characters are captivating and I couldn’t help being drawn into wondering about their origins, their reaction to Alezair, and how the dynamics between individuals came about. The short stories at the end, (I say short stories, but they were more like character chapters and windows into other perspectives) offered a great glimpse into the workings of the other characters and interestingly enough added some relief.

It’s not that TA became tedious or exhausting or anything negative. Even when I found the character Leid grating, it had nothing to do with the writing itself, it was more that I just didn’t like her character. This was made worse because I couldn’t help siding with Aleziar. I’m digressing. There’s plenty of stories I’ve read where there are quite a few tantalising lose threads cropping up throughout. It usually happens during the first in a series or trilogy; you come to expect it when there’s going to be more than one novel. Naturally this occurs in TA, and instead of being messy or frustrating, fortunately it brought about more curiosity. Where the short stories are a relief is during them we get to learn some of what has been eluded to along with more about several characters, one of which I was itching to find out more about by the end; Yaweh Telei.

I feel TA is an excellent intellectual science fiction, which can also be read and enjoyed by those who prefer to stay away from intellectual science fiction. In saying intellectual I don’t want to give a negative idea that it’s a pretentious story, but more so that people who like certain subjects would love quite a few areas of the story because of it. It makes you think, it’s enjoyable for it’s action and suspense, it has plenty of references to books and philosophical ideals, there’s a good level of humour and conflict, it’s not light for it touches on heavy subjects like slavery and control, and I also felt TA was infused with a great deal of actual science itself without reading like a textbook. This is definitely a story I will be re-reading again in future, with pleasure.

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