Robert Bevan is someone I’ve been reading for a long time now, getting into his books a few years back and reading them all multiple times. His latest book in the series, Critical Failures V, has left me a little on the fence.
While each book in the series so far has followed the standard formula of problem at start -> solved at end + new cliff-hanger (introduced to keep you wanting the next one), this one meandered along without much urgency and ended without any real satisfaction.
In this one, the expanding cast of unique characters has been split into multiple groups as they set out to find Tim who they believe is trying to abandon them all in the game. The splitting of the party was something I particularly enjoyed as it allowed some lesser characters the chance to shine on their own, giving us a chance to get to know them better.
Mister Bevan does a great job at pulling together all the divergent paths the characters have taken by the end, but this is where it fell down for me. I looked at the progress bar on my Kindle and thought it must have been malfunctioning. It said 99% and I felt that the climax of the book was about to kick into gear, but instead I was left with a cliff-hanger ending without any real feeling of satisfaction.
I would have gladly waited another 6 months or a year or more to have this storyline play out to a more satisfactory conclusion. As it is, it feels like I only read half a book, and for a book that’s close to 100,000 words, it felt kind of short.
Will I keep reading the series? You bet. I’m a huge fan of this universe and all the characters that make it what it is… just this one missed the mark a little for me. Was it as funny as previous books? I didn’t think so. It still gave me a chuckle here and there, but nothing that made me drop my Kindle and make my wife worry about my sanity, like in previous books.
There was some interesting character growth along the way. Cooper and his sentient axe whispering into his mind should prove interesting in future adventures, and a blossoming, unexpected relationship between a character and an NPC (I won’t say who so not to spoil anything).
A good addition to the universe without really moving anything forward. If you’ve not read anything in the series before you’ll be lost, so I suggest you start at Book 1 (it’s only 99 cents!).
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