Remember when I read Cinder and how skeptical I was of reading a science fiction novel? Well I was asked to read a science fiction novel in exchange for a honest review. So here it is. . . . The Robinsons’ Dark Matterwas a well written, entertaining read. This to be honest blew me away.
Victoria and Nate Robinson are typical, plain ole teenagers. Victoria, has a huge crush on her brother’s best friend and also loves reading about conspiracy theories. Nate . . . . well he just thinks his sister is weird. Oddly enough they have a decent relationship; they don’t avoid each other in school, and they don’t seem to hate each other (which is new).
But one day coming home from school they hear a strange sound coming from the basement. In this basement is a hidden door that alters gravity and has some suspicious alien technology in it. Curious as all teenagers would be Victoria and Nate discover that everything is not what it seems and that very same night their parents are kidnapped by two very weird men. Although the government tells them they have everything handled, Victoria and Nate take matters into their own hands.
What I loved about this book was the shock I felt when I began the book. Raymond (the author) made the beginning sound like a ending and it ticked me off until I realized what he was doing. He essentially started at the end to have a beginning; I haven’t seen that done in a while and it was done very well.
I also loved when the book switched to the parents point of view. Was not expecting that. Perfect.
What I didn’t like was the teens being in school and acting as if everything is okay. I understood why it was there because it helped in some ways and it moved some expected things around but I could have lived without it.
Raymond was able to keep a good pace in the book minus the school part, the book kept me on my toes that I looked forward to the next page. Not only did I want to see what happened to the parts but I knew something would change big time within those teenagers.
Overall this book gets a 9 out 10. The ending didn’t leave a lot of questions. Only one, which we can make an assumption on. There is a second book called The Robinsons’ Quantum Entanglement. I can honestly say I am looking forward to reading it.
To know more about the author check out Michael Raymond’s interview here
You majored in computer technology . . . do you think your love for video games and technology shines brightly in this book? If so, in what sense?
I don’t want to give anything away, but there are definitely a couple of characters in the story that grew directly from my interest in computers. The overarching theme is broader, and inspired by my love of science, in general, and the desire to understand how the world around us works. The entire story is set in the “real world” and although some of the science can generously be called “speculative” a lot of it comes from real experiments and theories–without all the dry, boring stuff, of course. Science always gets my imagination sparking and I put as much of that as I could into the book to share that with my readers.
What is your thought process when you have an idea for a book; more specifically the second book to this series.
I swear that what I am about to tell you is one-hundred-percent true. I combine a theme with a dream. I didn’t set out to do that, it just sort of kept happening that way. In the case of this first Robinsons novel, I knew I wanted to write a YA/SciFi/Adventure story, I modeled some elements on MG/YA Fantasy books I loved, and I selected some relevant real-world locations I really wanted to include. Then I figured out how all of that fit together with a dream I had about some weird aliens accidentally setting off the airbags while trying to hot-wire a car. Yes, that was a real dream that I had, and I have no idea why. I don’t normally have dreams about aliens (or car theft).
For the second book I obviously knew the theme, the cast of characters, the unanswered questions and story arcs that needed to grow out of the first book, but I didn’t have a plot. Then one night I had a dream about a particularly violent poltergeist (again, I generally do not have dreams about paranormal activity of any kind). It fit together perfectly with some of the ideas I’d been thinking about and suddenly everything just snapped together.
Why Young Adult?
I decided on YA for two reasons. First, it’s my absolute favorite. Probably three-quarters of what I read is YA. The second reason is the readers. By definition YA is intended for a teen audience, but plenty of adults still love that combination of imagination and fun you only find in YA and more than a few ambitious ten-year-olds start a few years early. I was one of them. A surprising number of people who work on the cutting edge of science today say they were inspired by Star Trek. If my stories inspire just a few people from a new generation in the same way…I can’t think of anything that would make me happier.
This being your first published book how long did it take for it to become noticed by publishers? Was it as frustrating as every author makes it seem? How did you deal with it?
To be honest, I didn’t even try. The state of publishing today is a mess, by all accounts. Large publishers are trying to adapt to the new market and small publishers are popping up all over the place, trying to get a foothold. Everyone is squeezing the authors as hard as they can in the struggle to stay alive. Two major problems seem to be universal: (1) It can sometimes take six months or more to be rejected by a publisher, and you cannot shop your manuscript to more than one at a time, and (2) Once accepted by a publisher they often cease promoting a title after the initial launch (if they ever really promoted it at all).
Considering that anyone can effectively become a publisher these days, and that the average new author will have to do the same amount of work either way, I decided to go it alone. I think this is becoming the new path to traditional publication. Amanda Hocking is one of the biggest names to make the move, but if an author can sell a few thousand copies of a book on their own they will have a much easier time finding a traditional publisher than an author with a killer manuscript but no following. Once you have a following, the question becomes whether you’re willing to give up the incredible level of control you have (most traditionally published authors have no official say on their own book covers, for instance) in exchange for the infrastructure and support a traditional publisher can offer.
Finally, what book are your currently reading now that is influencing your writing?
I’m reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, a crime novel written by J. K. Rowling under a pseudonym. I just got finished reading Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian. Put those together and I’m not sure what you get . . . The Robinsons’ Quantum Entanglement, quite possibly.