By Drew Karpyshyn
Set nearly twenty years after the events of Mass Effect: Revelation, Kahlee Sanders has left her position with the Alliance to conduct research for the Ascension Project, a program designed to teach human biotic children to master their abilities from a young age. Twelve-year-old Gillian Grayson has proven herself to be the most intriguing child in the program as the readings taken from her implant show she has the potential to be the most powerful human biotic in history. However, her borderline autism makes connecting with others difficult, and she has had no success in performing even simple task with her powers.
After a nearly fatal accident occurs at the academy, Gillian’s father arrives to remove her from the project fearing for his child’s life. Kahlee and the security chief, Hendel, leave with him in an attempt to keep the girl safe unaware that the elder Grayson is actually a Cerberus operative working for the Illusive Man. Caught up in Cerberus’ plans, Kahlee and Hendel must risk their lives to try to keep Gillian from being abducted and experimented on in the name of furthering the human race. However, Gillian trusts her father implicitly, and he will do anything to complete his mission including brutally murdering his unwelcome guests.
For those of you who have been reading my reviews for a while, you already know my level of obsession and love for the Mass Effect franchise, so it will come as no surprise to you that I liked this novel. However, I recognize that nostalgia puts rose tinted glasses on just about anything which is why I can say the book is fun as a canonical side story, but it isn’t perfect.
Reading makes me sleepy. I have fallen asleep too many times while engrossed in plenty of books, however I fell asleep while reading this book at least 2-3 times. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as boring, just slow which is odd for a book that is only 342 pages long. Most people could probably finish it in one to two days, but it took me a little longer than expected to slog through some of the chapters. Some days I could only read a couple sections and just be done. That’s not exactly how I want to describe a book set in one of my favorite universes.
I enjoyed the characters for the most part (as some of them were fleshed out really well an others were just kinda meh). Part of the book also took place on Omega which (at least to me) is one of the most enthralling and treacherous places in the whole series, so that was pretty great. The sections that took place at the actual academy though were boring up until the accident which is where the book starts to gain momentum. However, like a lot of books we really want to love but just can’t, all the good stuff was saved for the very end. Not much of the interesting content was spread throughout the chapters, I’m afraid.
I will say that the book having throwbacks to the first novel and following Kahlee was a solid stylistic choice. For that aspect alone, the novel is worth a shot to any fans of the series. If, on the other hand, you are someone who just wants to pick up a novel and get engrossed in distant alien worlds and high sci-fi rigamarole, this book series is not for you. The games definitely are worth playing if you haven’t picked them up yet, but don’t start with the books! What makes Mass Effect novels good is, again, the nostalgia. It’s being able to remember when you went to Omega with Shepard or saved the students at Grissom Academy with Jack. You won’t get that warm feeling as someone new to the series. It just won’t matter to you because the story doesn’t represent the universe well enough on its own.
But for you Mass Effect nerds, this one’s for you
Overall Rating: 3.5