Viral Airwaves, by Claudie Arseneault
Re-Release Date: November 22, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Henry Schmitt wants nothing more than a quiet life and a daily ration of instant noodles. At least until he learns the terrible secret that drove his father away—the Plague that killed his mother and ravaged his country was created by those now in power. He has one chance to help expose the conspiracy: a ragtag band of rebels needs a pilot for their hot air balloon, where they can launch a broadcast revealing the truth. If Henry accepts, he can experience his dream of flight. But he would have to leave his safe, tranquil life behind … and bring the wrath of a corrupt government upon his head.
Coming of Age
Medical Tests (in the past, off-page)
Highlight below for SPOILER:
Death of Main Character
Suicide of Minor Character
First off, I don’t really know which version of the book I read. I got the copy for free because I signed up to the newsletter and read later on the author’s website that the book was re-released and now had on-page asexual representation which was only implied in the first one. Judging from this info, I think I’ve read the old version. I still included the tag for asexual character, though, and hope that it really is more prominent in the new book.
Then, I wish I could give this book 4 stars and recommend it without any doubt, because, to be fair, most of the book is great. However, there is a plot development near the end that I really hated. I’ll explain more about this later.
Basically, this book has four very interesting and distinct characters through whose lenses the story is told. They vary in age, social and ethnical background, are from the LGBTQIA spectrum, and I loved spending time with them, and see them grow during the course of the book. This is especially the case for Henry whose story arc is mainly a coming of age story. But there’s also some kind of enemies-to-lovers theme that is for the most part really well done.
The setting of the book is unique and vivid. I especially liked the scenes in the mountain and in the air balloon, however, there were instances when I was surprised by some elements that I wouldn’t have expected in the world, like the mention of busses for instance.
There are two really cool and I would say perfect female characters which is utterly awesome. I think they are even the best characters in the book. The only thing that could have been better is if they had played an even larger role.
I think the pacing is Very slow. It didn’t actually bother me but I think the book would have been better, especially in the first half, had things developed faster.
Now the premise is nothing awesomely inventive, but it’s good and allows for an entertaining read, however, I think the execution in the second half, the bringing together of all strings and lose ends, wasn’t good. It felt more like things were in part too convenient and against all odds, on the one hand, and then not necessary, on the other. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s reading experience but I need to address this, because it is the reason for the lower rating, so please be aware that I will give away two major plot points.
At 85% in the book one of the four main characters dies, which, ok, totally sucks. I mean, this is a fantasy book and not a romance where we can expect a happily ever after, but, if you kill off one of the four leads in your book and put me as a reader through this disappointment and anger, it better has a damn good reason. However, I don’t see the purpose of said death. Yes, of course, it effects the other characters, but foremost only one of them and only in a minor way. He was already moving in this direction anyway and, like, for me that’s totally not worth it. To top this off, the sweet enemies to lovers couple doesn’t get their happy ending. *angry pout*
This is, however, only one case of why I think the plot development was weird and also lazy. At another point, another of the four protagonists nearly dies and while the reader has some doubts about it in this case, THE most important device (THE recording that was supposed to bring down the tyranny) is destroyed. Huh? Conveniently, though, in the next scene, a more or less new character is introduced who happens to have a copy. What?
The showdown is a huge pile of characters tumbling into each other, helping each other, just how and where they are needed, all to bring the story to a mostly satisfying end—if it weren’t for that death, you know?
*sigh* I’m disappointed. That always happens when a book lets me down later on. It is still mostly a good book, but… Well, yeah.
I’m a young French Canadian writer, living in Quebec City — which, yes, means French is my first language. I started writing back in 2007, and promptly became quite addicted to it. I am strangely fond of squids and hot air balloons, in addition to being a big gamer (Fire Emblem on top of that list, obviously!) and and of most things geeky or science-related. Especially virus/bacteria! Invisible killers forever!
As a writer I am a sucker for fantasy and science fiction. I aspire to create diverse worlds, and most of my stories are lead by characters on the LGBTQ+ spectrum (including less represented identities).