Before I even start this review, be forewarned: I am going to talk about Mass Effect like you already know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not a gamer, my apologies. I live in a weird bubble where I just assume everyone passionately loves the same things I do.
Okay, so… You know me, right? Chances are, if you’re coming to this blog to read something I’ve written, you know at least a little something about me. If that something isn’t the fact that I’m a gigantic Mass Effect fan, I feel a little ashamed because my fan love for that franchise is more epic than my love for the Dragon Age franchise, and that love is pretty solid. I have played the original Mass Effect trilogy more times than I can count, I still cry at all the right parts, I love my imaginary drell boyfriend deeply, and I showed up at Gamestop at 8:45 the night before ME: Andromeda released wearing an N7 hoodie to pick up my pre-ordered, super duper fancy deluxe copy of the new game the minute they were ready to hand it over to me. I came home, started building my Sara Ryder before the game even finished installing, and was on Ark Hyperion faster than you can say, “NORMANDY!” Basically, this review is going to be me going on for a thousand words about how much I love space and aliens and Mass Effect, so fire up your jump jets and let’s leap into this thing.
Of course I was going to read the books they put out to coincide with the new game, the Dark Horse comics, too (keep an eye out for my review of the full collection once it’s done running). I rushed out on release day to pick up Nexus Uprising because after finishing my first playthrough of the game, I wanted to know more about how the Andromeda Initiative wound up in the state it was in when Liam, Cora, and I docked with the Nexus that first time.
A little background to set you up: About fifty-thousand colonists drawn from the major races who comprise the Milky Way Galaxy have decided to explore and settle beyond our home galaxy. Five arks are set to travel millions of light years to the Andromeda Galaxy, cryo-sleeping through the journey and waking to settle seven golden worlds large enough for all the species to thrive and grow. The Andromeda Initiative will be the Milky Way’s legacy, the first seeds to spread across the universe and make a new life, a new mark outside the home galaxy. They will leave all their old grudges and prejudices behind and start anew. Sounds great, right? When you look at the specs, it sounds damn near perfect, but since they made an entire game about it, and there are plans for at least three books and a comic series, it’s totally not going to go anyway at all like they planned. It never does.
The Nexus is a central hub, a space station meant to arrive several months before the arks so its staff can set up to welcome new colonists and get them ready to explore their new galaxy as they’re woken from cryo. The thing is, if the Nexus can’t get itself together before the arks begin to arrive, there’s gonna be trouble. Big trouble. I imagine you can already guess how this book is going to go… The Nexus totally isn’t going to be ready, and this book explores why.
Immediately upon entering the Heleus Cluster in the Andromeda Galaxy, the Nexus station takes heavy damage from an unknown force that will become known as The Scourge. No one quite knows what The Scourge is because getting close enough to study it is damn near impossible, and it’s already taken out more people than anyone ever imagined they’d lose in the moments after they were woken from cryo.
With the head of the Initiative and several other important players killed before they’ve even had a chance to rub the sleep from their eyes, it falls to Security Director Sloane Kelly to maintain order as the Initiative dream crumbles all around them. With the line of succession hacked down to the bare minimum, it falls to Deputy Assistant of Revenue Management for the Nexus, Jarun Tann, to take the reins as Director. As Tann’s ego clashes with Sloane’s desperate attempt to restore order, alliances form that promise to tear the very fabric of the Nexus to pieces. All those prejudices they were meant to leave behind rise like cream to the surface, curdling and festering until nearly everyone who’s been woken to help rebuild the Nexus is at each other’s throats. Mounting tension and drama mingle with secrets and lies to create a volatile cocktail guaranteed to explode in the very faces of the leaders meant to hold the organization together.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because we really got some insight and perspective into a character from the game I wanted to know more about. Sloane Kelly, as much as I loathe her in-game, is an intense and dynamic woman who found herself at odds, her leadership and her and her morals called into question, with a leadership that never should have risen to power in the first place.
Very well written, this was a great prequel and introduction to Andromeda. Hough and Alexander touched on all the right issues, and developed Sloane in a way that made it harder for me to hate her. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still think she’s scum, but I know what lurks under her layers now, and I sometimes feel kind of guilty about hating her.
I gave it four out of five stars, and definitely recommend it to players of the game who’d like to know exactly how the Nexus wound up off the rails long before you even arrive. If you’re not familiar with this franchise, but you love space and sci-fi, what are you waiting for?