Sci-Fi and fantasy series can be tricky things. Regardless of how pleasurable it may be, a book can be a big investment of time and energy, so it’s not unreasonable for readers to expect some guarantee that it will be worth it. This typically means that many readers stick to one style of story (and a limited range of author) and are happily rewarded with more of the same.
Though this is the safe path, it can also be the blandest. Alas, with The Blood of the Hoopoe, the latest instalment of Naomi Foyles’ The Gaia Chronicles series, it seems that the author has chosen the most unremarkable route. This is a pity, because it lovingly mixes fantasy and sci-fi concepts, set in a dystopian future; usually the sort of thing most of us will lap right up.
The series focuses on the misadventures of Astra Ordott, a young lady who has a destiny. The first book, simply called Astra, focused on Astra’s childhood and the high-technology society that she came from. Astra lives in a post-apocalyptic world, and the series has very strong environmental themes, with everyone seemingly having the ability to be one with nature. Astra uncovered the sinister secrets behind the paradise she was raised in and escaped her dystopian homeland. The novel was pretty slow but had some interesting concepts. By book two, Rook’s Song, the pace had picked up substantially, but the core concept was the same; Astra had much to learn about the world, and her innate superiority let her find out all she needed to know just in time.
The Blood of the Hoopoe feels like it combines the worst aspects of the previous two books; we have the overly involved exposition of the first book and predictable story arc of the second novel. This time round, it’s up to Astra to bring together not only the disparate tribes of man but also restore humanity’s connection to the Earth itself. The central problem is that Astra is the only character with any depth; the reader doesn’t really care about the rest of the world and its problems.
On the other hand, each of these books is a quick read and the world building is interesting and engaging, though not terribly original. The Blood of the Hoopoe is more of the same for those who need that sort of thing on their bookshelf.
THE BLOOD OF THE HOOPOE / AUTHOR: NAOMI FOYLE / PUBLISHER: JO FLETCHER BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (KINDLE)