I thoroughly enjoyed “Papala Skies” by Stephen Geez and was very happy when I won “Invigilator” as part of a blog tour. It sounded like the kind of story I’d enjoy, i.e., laden with conspiracy theories and fun stuff like that. As soon as I started reading I was awed by the level of detail. Clearly the author knows his stuff. He definitely pulls you in with outstanding imagery and action, right down to the model of the various weapons and ammunition. I live in Texas and so much of what he said was familiar, since I’ve been to several of the locations he mentioned. The Southern mentality was on-target and made me feel as if I were a part of the militia depicted. The characters were convincing and real as well as their respective attitudes and motivations. The dialog was appropriately drawn with bad grammar sprinkled with slang such that I could almost “hear” the conversations, which sounded like something I might overhear in the local Walmart. For all these reasons, all of which are related to the skilled writing style of the author, I initially gave this book 5 stars. But at this point, after thinking about it, I have dropped it to 4 stars.
Without getting into spoiler territory, I will say I was greatly disappointed in the ending. Considering the level of detail throughout the story, one of the most important plot elements was never explained as I expected. There also seemed to be a few contradictions, e.g., in one place it said something didn’t or couldn’t happen then later it did without explanation of how that occurred. There were too many matters that were dealt with using implications that were a little too foggy and undefined for my reading tastes. I’m a hard sci-fi fan who likes to know the how and why of things, which weren’t ever included. This might not bother someone who doesn’t care about those type of details and is happy to draw their own conclusions. For me it was lacking. If all you’re looking for is lots of guns and ammo and explosive descriptions packaged in a prepper attitude, then you’ll probably be perfectly happy.
I assume this book will ultimately become the first volume of a series. If that was always the intent, it should have been stated as such. That way I would not have expected a satisfying ending with adequate closure and explanation of the various mysteries presented. There is certainly plenty of room for a sequel where all these things could be explained. The way it stands left me disappointed and frustrated that I’d plowed through the book expecting answers that were never delivered.
One last thing. I also think the book deserves a better cover. While the existing one captures the essence of the story at the technical level as far as the action and basic plot are concerned, it really doesn’t do it justice.
You can pick up a copy from Amazon here.