Informational Note: I am reviewing this book of my own free will per request of the original author and publisher due to the involvement of Orkney locations in the book alongside other elements. I shall give an honest review as I always do in my reviews but my readers can take this knowledge however they wish.
I’m reviewing an ebook as opposed to an audio – but I’m glad to be on familiar ground.
The Sarispa Thirteen young adult novel by C.R. Coen is definitely quite the adventure. The story goes as follows: Earth was claimed long ago by an evil alien race known as the Sarispa. These reptilian aliens (progenitor race for the famous dinosaurs) have one simple aim in our far future: Take over human society as it exists from the inside, drain the Earth and as many other planets as possible of all resources and turn the peoples living on those worlds into slave races for the benefit of the Sarispa and none but the Sarispa.
They and their leaders in the titular Sarispa Thirteen are resisted by the Intergalactic Federation: A group of agents from across numerous worlds both inside and outside the Solar System from all over the multiverse including our Arcturian heroine Dharma. These C.I.T (Counter Intergalactic Terrorism) agents track the would be conquerors across time, space and when necessary dimensions to apprehend for the good of all.
This story really does feel like it’s moving along at a fair clip! Our heroine Dharma certainly comes across as a very skilled and competitive person, taking part in certain challenges outside of missions and when on a Sarispa hunt making quite a strong impression on readers. In my personal opinion I feel she is a very well done point of view character especially for the intended audience. She also has several characters alongside her at the C.I.T base inside The Ring Of Brodgar (which understandably made me smile at the idea of this universe’s equivalent of Starfleet or some similar such organisation having a high-tech anti invasion base inside The Ring of Brodgar of all places. There is also a reference elsewhere in the book which I took to mean an equivalent for Maeshowe under a different name although I may be mistaken) ranging from Salva a fellow agent with intriguing skills of his own and Leo and Nash who are both effectively retired agents turned cooks – with Leo in particular getting a laugh out of me a few times – to Castra and Ashtar the local leaders who both are definitely not the kind of leaders who do nothing. I don’t want to tell you about everyone for obvious reasons but I can definitely say you’ll find yourself swept along.
One thing I did make note of throughout the book was the extensive world building. There were multiple sections or chapters where the author gives the reader a detailed glimpse into the history and technology of this world. Be it the Sarispa’s conquest of Mesoamerica, a detailed description of the abilities of both the Sarispa and the Federation agents, the specifics of the Federation’s future tech or the war that led to the meteor which in our world killed the dinosaurs. Despite feeling myself very much embracing the spirit of the story, I do remember early on being somewhat confused by the terms used before later in the book terms were explained or I was able to figure out what certain things meant by context clues. Since this book is a young adult novel I have to congratulate C.R.Coen on clearly thinking through many different aspects of their world which many authors – even certain famous or respected ones – have attempted to handwave away. I will say I was a little worried that certain readers may find this detail overload and want to get on with the story but I feel like the story reaches a fun balance between world building info and keeping the story going and entertaining.
The Sarispa Thirteen was a story I found myself enjoying immensely. With a basic plot descriptor of ‘future space cops vs evil alien reptile people with rescue missions, dimension hopping and a surprisingly substantial local element’ how could I not have fun with this!? I may usually focus on audiobooks as opposed to ebooks or the kind you’d find in a personal collection or in a library but I can safely promise this: If the Sarispa invade the world of audio – be it this story or the teased sequel – I will be sure to give it a listen!
In conclusion if this sounds like something that you would enjoy or if you know anyone who is looking for a bit of fun with maybe a little more than you’d expect going in, this is an easy recommendation.