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This is a wonderful beginning to your series. I was riveted throughout, and there are a number of elements that are working quite well. First, I think that you have laid the groundwork for all kinds of dramatic conflict and mystery moving forward. There are at least four major factions, the prime minister and the Administration, Keljun and the people of Earth, the Watchers, and the mysterious alien entities who sent the probe and the main characters are caught in the middle of their machinations.
On top of that, there are other, smaller factions such as the lunar rebels, Asteroid Pirates, Belt Bandits, etc. You’ve really created something magnificently complex that just feels heavy with story, and I can see you spinning it out for quite a while.
The background and setting are also a part of this. While not overbearing, you still manage to get in quite a bit of detail about your world and still manage to hint at much more to come.
I think that the backstory of a major part of the human population fleeing to the outer reaches of the solar system to avoid a great plague is great. What’s even better is how you use it to affect things and events in the story it’s not just window dressing, it’s organic to the narrative and is necessary to understanding everything from small things like the bio-chip implants the characters have to the larger social structures that have arisen in the intervening years and even current character motivations.
As for characters, I also think you’ve done a great job of making them complex, giving them not just powerful personal histories, but intertwining those histories so that the characters are intimately connected to one another. It gives the story a remarkably personal feel despite the epic nature of events.
Thank you, Lawrence, for the chance to help you with this book. As a reader, you’ve caught my attention with this first book, giving me plenty of meat to sink my teeth into while still holding back plenty of mystery to keep me looking toward learning more of the story. I look forward not only to reading more of the story, but to seeing this book in print!