Shadow of Zelos
by Uwe Jaeckel

"We are no longer in orbit around our sun. That’s Alpha Centauri out there, people, and we are the first Humans to see it in person."

Darren Hildure and Feng Yusheng gain extraordinary abilities while surviving a disastrous trip to Mars to find the source of a one-word extraterrestrial summons. With the true purpose of their trip hidden from all but a select few on Earth, the men learn an insectoid alien race, known as the Zelos, are determined to annihilate the earth and harvest all its citizens. Only through the gifts and resources given them by another alien race, which includes an advanced AI they name Observer and machines to enhance their bodies and minds, will humanity have a fighting chance. However, they will quickly learn that not all their enemies are coming from the stars; a group on Earth led by a man with equally impressive abilities is attempting to assassinate those trying to unite the earth under this one cause. Selecting the best and brightest to return to Mars and undergo the enhancement process, the top government officials and intelligence agencies must find a way to prepare Earth for the Zelos onslaught. They have limited time to build a fleet of spacecraft and crew worthy of this challenge.

After getting past a slightly slow exposition, Jaeckel’s narrative is fast-paced with a surprising amount of intrigue built into its science fiction fare. This story is not hard-core sci-fi with an in-depth explanation of the science and theory behind the technologies that are presented. Rather, this is a quickly paced thrill ride reminiscent of Patterson’s Maximum Ride or I am Number Four. If the reader is willing to overlook basic grammatical errors, the story will sweep them up in a type of comic book narrative, or a Michael Bay movie for film buffs. The storyline progressively speeds towards bigger action sequences, larger space battles, and a conclusion that clearly sets one up for the sequel.

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