Red Desert – Point of No Return, by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, Reviewed.

point of no return

This is the first part of a four book series. I have a certain distrust of such books, if they fail to perform the function of a proper story in each volume. This one, it must be said, is marginal. The ending is ambiguous and designed to draw the reader to the next part, which is fine from a marketing point of view but a little unsatisfactory from the point of view of the reader. I do expect a book to contain a complete story, rather than part of a longer work: it should begin, continue and end as a stand-alone work, I think. Tactics designed to ensnare the reader generally have the exact opposite effect on me, so, as a marketing trick it fails on this reader.

This is a science fiction tale mostly concerned with a romance, and that’s fine. The narrator is a young woman who eventually must face up to the real reason she decided to take a one-way trip to Mars. Her development of self-awareness is what the book seems to be about.

There’s enough science to satisfy the general reader, but I suspect the more hardened aficionados of the genre will find this aspect a little thin. There was enough for me, especially as my own research for the topic has given me a good insight into the idea of living on Mars.

The element of threat, and its associated anxiety, is developed early. However, the narrator’s attitude to her situation tends to dilute the tension as the story unfolds, until the very end, when she is visited by the need to be honest about her motivations.

The pace is relatively gentle. Flashbacks are strategically placed to explain various developments in both story and character.

The book is translated from the original Italian and I suspect that may explain why the style of writing has a slightly studied air about it. I felt I was being told so much and allowed to observe only a little. Perhaps the original has subtleties lost in translation.

But it’s a good, if inconclusive, story, and the characters are well drawn. I was engaged enough to complete the read in one sitting.

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