Publisher: Titan Books
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Released: December 5th 2017
Seeing a novel with Mass Effect in the title is a pretty good way to get my attention. Having the author be N.K. Jemisin (author of The Fifth Season, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and The Killing Moon) simply further guarantees that point. Having read the first Mass Effect: Andromeda novel and loving it, I simply knew I had to give this one a try (I may or may not have had it pre-ordered months before it came out).
It probably goes without saying that the arrival of this book created a conflict of emotions for me. On the one hand, N.K. Jemisin wrote it, so I don’t really need to worry about the quality, on the other, I’m still really bummed that this novel didn’t pick up where Nexus Uprising left off (perhaps that’s unreasonable, but seeing as there’s still a gap between the book and the game I don’t think so). But beggars can’t be choosers, and you can believe I snatched this up the second I had the chance to.
I don’t think I like this cover as much as I did for Nexus Uprising. Maybe it’s the color palette, or maybe I just really liked the look of the suit on the last cover (that sounds about right…). It isn’t a bad cover, though I think Cora looks a little…off…on it. But then again, she wasn’t exactly my favorite character to begin with, so perhaps that’s it.
Speaking of Cora not being my favorite; I never really disliked her, I just never felt like I had a chance to get to know her character. So I was content with the opportunity to learn a bit more about her backstory and character here. While I learned a lot about her background, I would have liked to see some more emotional responses from her. Though I will admit that I absolutely adored her interactions with SAM-E. That alone made me realize I could grow to like her (and for the most part, I did).
I was happy to have an explanation for by Ryder had his kid take over, instead of Cora, which was something he was clearly hoping for. I had also been confused about why Cora was so okay with being passed over, but this novel takes the time to explain both to me – though thankfully it doesn’t do so in a blunt manner, instead it allows me to realize why for myself.
I think the real shining character for this story, ironically, was SAM-E. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but seeing the way he developed over time while being bonded to Cora was pretty fascinating. I loved watching him pick up quirks or be surprised where Cora showed concern over his (is his correct here?) well-being. I almost wish I had seen more interactions between SAM and SAM-E, though I understand the difficulties in that.
As for the plot itself, I’ll confess it took me a little while to get into it. Probably two or three chapters, give or take. Part of this was disappointment – I knew that Initiation wasn’t going to directly follow Nexus Uprising, but I hadn’t expected them to jump so far back either, so that threw me a bit. Once I got into it though, I started becoming more invested in the actual plot and what was happening to Cora. She certainly has her moments, and while she isn’t the most personable character out there, she will make you laugh (as will the people that tend to gravitate towards her).
Next in line is Mass Effect: Annihilation, which I haven’t been able to pin down a description for yet, but I do know it’s going to be written by Catherynne M. Valentine (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and Deathless).