Publisher: Titan Books
Released: March 21st 2017
Nexus Uprising tells the events leading up to Mass Effect Andromeda, which is fantastic for fans like me who haven’t had a chance to play the game yet (I swear this isn’t because I’ve been too busy reading…). That being said, I believe fans could read/play in either order. There are more novels planned as well, at least two to my knowledge.
The plot for Nexus Uprising starts all the way back before the Nexus launches, and carries us up to the events that occur in Andromeda. We start out seeing the world heavily through Sloan Kelly’s perspective, but throughout the novel more perspectives are introduced (my favorite being Kesh).
For those that haven’t played the game yet, the name Sloan Kelly probably doesn’t ring a bell. All those that did play will know that Sloan was a major factor in the rebellion that occurred on the Nexus (They’ll also probably have particular opinions on Sloan). Seeing the events that build up to the rebellion was actually pretty interesting, so I am glad I took the time to read it. The first major cataclysm to occur is the accident (the specifics are not identified until much later). Nexus has struck or been struck by something, causing colossal amounts of damage and a soaring number of fatalities. The surviving leaders are principally incompatible with each other, personality wise, leading to resentment from all sides.
Not all of the races are represented on Nexus, the Quarians being the most notable absence (many gamers have complained about their absence as well). They had hoped that this new galaxy would be a fresh start for all the races, but prejudice still runs deep in many. This is relevant and shown frequently in the lack of equality in the chain of command. No Krogans are on the list for potential leaders of Nexus, a fact which is noted by many. Personally the unfairness of this drove me absolutely bonkers, and leads me to completely root for Kesh kicking a certain someone’s butt. More on that later. The new director of Nexus is Tann (Celerian) and is not at all subtle in his opinion of the Krograns. This causes even more discontent throughout the crews (how is that even possible?). All in all I feel that Tann is the perfect character to hate, between his prejudice and his bureaucratic leanings.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen so far is that the plot moves slowly, I think this is because the authors made the mistake of allowing the sense about the slow progress of the ship repairs bleed into the writing. The Nexus is crippled, repairs are slow at best, and prioritized by needs first. This had the potential to be a series wrought with distress. It sometimes falls flat though, with talking and planning and thinking being shown by the characters, but little else. I still enjoyed reading it though, so this will likely come down to personal preference for the reader.
My one complaint related to the slower storytelling style would be that sometimes major plot points get spread too far apart. For example: it isn’t until nearly a third of the way through the book that the authors confirm the original Director’s death. Which of course is very sad, but by that point I had assumed she was dead a few chapters ago, when they had discovered the bodies of many of the awake crewmembers. I understand suspense, when applied right, can intensify a plot, but I do not think it was used to its full advantage here.
All that being said, once the plot picks up the pace it really does get rolling. One moment we’re waiting for information on the eight scout ships sent out, the next the rebellion is in full swing. It’s actually pretty satisfying to see – all the build-up coming to a head and exploding outwards. The fights are spread out and realistically fast, while still being utterly brutal. Part of me is grateful that the authors didn’t go into excessive detail of the battles after the Krogans become involved. I think the imagination is sufficient in this case.
I’ve spoken to several people who have already played the game, and most of them have expressed dislike towards Sloan, and outright hatred toward Tann and Spender. Having read the novel I completely understand their loathing of the two men (and am in fact looking forward to continuing my hate when I play the game) but I am conflicted on Sloan. It appears that most people that have just played the game hate her, but my not having played yet lent me the ability to be sympathetic towards her. By all appearances she did the best she could given the circumstances handed to her. It’s an interesting debate there, one I would love to have with someone who has read and played both.