Verdict: ASTEROIDS: Escape from the Arcadians is an extremely immersive adventure with memorable characters, tons of high-tech flourishes, and, despite being a massive book, debut novelist Mike McCoy keeps things moving briskly.
Protagonist Rick Munday is an astrophysicist with a unique theory concerning asteroids. Unfortunately, his theories are all too true and the government is desperately trying to cover up the fact that a massive, civilization-crushing meteor storm is imminent. Essentially kidnapped by a government faction planning for its own survival in Utopian underground cities, Munday must escape, avoid the pursuit of a zealous military assassin, and travel across a disaster-ridden country to rejoin his family in California. While attempting this, he also does everything he can to expose the government’s plans and save as many people as possible.
Munday is a great hero, fully relatable with plenty of vulnerability, humanity, and resourcefulness. However, many of the secondary characters are just as vividly rendered. Particularly the egomaniac Colonel Cruikshank, who is the delightfully believable, but totally unhinged leader of the dystopian cities.
The fast-paced plot is a kaleidoscope of fun science fiction themes, beginning with the puzzle and reveal of the government conspiracy mixed with some well-handled astrophysics. Various doomsday prep scenarios are explored from the intricate details involved in creating a sustainable underground network of cities, to family-level shelters, down to individual cases. Also thrown into the mix is a vigorous online gaming virtual battle, political wrangling, high-risk space missions, multiple love stories, and some philosophical musings about who can and should be saved when helping too many could threaten the survival of everyone. Author Mike McCoy’s skill somehow keeps all these elements together in a compelling narrative.
The menace of the meteor strikes is starkly conveyed and the peril facing the various characters throughout feels real. This isn’t one of those books where millions die but improbably, all the characters we’re invested in miraculously survive. This allows the tension and suspense to remain high through most of the various plotlines.
ASTEROIDS: Escape from the Arcadians is a very good read, and especially impressive for a first-time novelist. Almost every aspect of the massive, multi-pronged plot held together very well, but I thought two of the somewhat minor plotlines could have benefited from more attention. The military assassin in pursuit of the hero story was compelling but the resolution seemed artificial. Likewise, the political betrayal that underpinned the secret cities narrative felt glossed over and too facile. Fortunately, these are minor flaws. In a book so loaded with fun, they are easy to overlook.
ASTEROIDS: Escape from the Arcadians is an extremely immersive adventure with memorable characters, tons of high-tech flourishes, and, despite being a massive book, debut novelist Mike McCoy keeps things moving briskly.
~J.V. Bolkan for IndieReader