The great thing about the science fiction novel MS. NEVER by Colin Dodds is that it is chock full of intriguing ideas. Ideas like alternate dimensions, disintegrating realities, making things exist in the past (as opposed to just the present or future), the selling of souls, manipulating spiritual infrastructures, making a fast buck from knock-off universes…and other such unique concepts.
MS. NEVER is a vast, multifaceted undertaking, and for much of the first half adjectives like ‘riveting, complex, detailed, skillfully crafted’ come immediately to mind. Sadly that strong beginning does not hold true for the latter half of the book which becomes convoluted with characters and subplots that are not as believable, enjoyable, or fully realized. For example, as the main characters who fall in love, Farya and Bryan’s relationship should leap off the page with three-dimensional life in order to get readers invested in their storyline, as well as in the “unspeakable secrets” they each hold. But through the many intricate story loops, these individuals (along with the rest of the characters inhabiting the novel) remain woefully underdeveloped in terms of tangible emotional content and the story would greatly benefit from further revision.
MS. NEVER is best when it delves into comparisons between worlds imagined and worlds that were: “The whole business was an evasion, a cheap trick. She could see it stretch out into the future as one more perversity the next generation would take for granted, while the gloss on reality faded, the food no longer fed as it had, the water no longer quenched as it had, and friendship no longer comforted as it once did.” Unfortunately, by the time the grand finale is reached, readers are likely to be left more exhausted or confused than enlightened and satisfied.
MS. NEVER by Colin Dodds starts off chock full of intriguing ideas, but ultimately crumples into a complicated accumulation of unrealized dreams and not fully fleshed out characterizations.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader