Ascension, Victor Dixen

A recent sci-fi book sees six young men and women sent on a mission to colonise Mars while competing for love with the entire world watching. The Bachelor meets space colonisation in the greatest reality tv show. The premise didn’t interest me, but my book club chose it for this month’s read. Please note that this book is apparently translated from French to English which may contribute to some of the writing problems.

From the very beginning, it was intriguing that the main character was a French girl as opposed to the standard American character. Leonor with her fiery red hair and her artistic way of viewing the world made for a striking character. We are given a backstory for Leonor, along with some of the others as the journey continues and are told in the blurb that every contestant has a secret. But Leonor’s was one that constantly affected the story due to scars, both metaphorical and physical. A badly burned baby abandoned in a trash can, Leonor made a way in the world by working at a dog food canning facility while cultivating her art and dreams of grandeur. It’s easy to understand why someone in such a situation would jump at the chance to be one of the most important people on earth. Though the gruesome scarring on her back makes her anxious.

Leonor was an alright character, though some character traits such as sudden violent tantrums made her not very captivating. But she was better than the rest. Most of the characters were only mildly intriguing, all with bland personalities and tiresome petty obsessions. Though the petty obsessions are realistic for their ages. The only interesting characters were Safia, Mozart and Marcus. The solely intriguing element about the characters was that they supposedly all have some dark secret.

Unlike most novels, the conspiracy is clear to readers from the beginning. It was a breath of fresh air to have everything out in the open, but it may have added to the slow pace and lack of mystery. From the start, I found this book very slow, and it didn’t capture me. For nearly the entire book I merely skimmed section until dialogue and even that was slow. The dialogue didn’t sound realistic and added to the issues with the writing. The various and drastically different points of view made the characters hard to connect with and slowed what little action there was, yet it was frustrating that we didn’t get to see what the boys’ side of the ship were up to. Like I stated before some of these issues could be due to the translation.

The concept of this book was ridiculous, and it didn’t get better when you actually read it. If anything, it got worse. I can’t get over how inefficient it is to only have a single six-minute ‘dating session’ where one girl and one boy meet in a room divided by a glass wall. If you were hoping to get to know someone and, in the case of the program investors, make money, it would be smarter to have multiple dating sessions per day or at least one longer session. For the rest of the day the astronauts such sit around, chat and occasionally study. Not to mention the fact that twelve teenagers are supposed to become professionals in their fields skilled enough to colonise another planet within only twelve months. Sure, the habitat is already built and waiting for them, but they still need to grow food, maintain machines and conduct medical procedures.

The end was a disappointing attempt at a climax, leaving the reader disappointed that they didn’t at least get to view the astronauts’ decision. It was a clear push to extend the story to another book, and I’ve heard that there is supposed to be two more instalments coming. This story could’ve been done in two books, possibly condensed into one. The book was slow and uninteresting, with a cliched plotted and dull characters. Some of my book club members had the same experience, even the ones that enjoyed the book found it to be slow going. I give it 3/5 and will not be reading the next book, though I might Google a summary of what happens



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