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Last year, indie author Leo Flynn asked me to review his SciFi story Mara’s Awakening, part 1 in the 3 part saga. I did review it and as much as I wanted to be nice about it, I didn’t think much of the story. It was too short and there was almost no story or character development.
Then last April, Leo contacted me again. Apparently, a number of people provided him with similar comments, so much so in fact, that he reworked the tale completely. He asked me to review the updated version.
I love it.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was. Mara, Ishali, Mallory, feel more like real people. Leo takes much more time to flesh out his protagonist and her circumstances. Prison feels a lot more substantial, and the reader experiences Mara’s anguish and frustration at being unjustly incarcerated for life.
Mara is a law enforcer, or was, the veteran of the Anguin wars where things took a terrible turn, in spite of all her efforts. She was injured in an explosion losing an arm and a leg. They were replaced by cybernetic units, but in prison, fitted with a restrainer so she can’t use their power.
After six years in solitary confinement, she is released to the general population. Her rough adjustment period, learning the rules of interacting with other inmates and guards, is palatable. She’s only crudely socialized at this point, but does eventually develop a tenuous relationship with her much younger cellmates Ishali and Mallory.
But one unusual event piles on top of another and then another. The warden of the prison is Mara’s former teacher Rayven who doesn’t trust her and doesn’t believe she was framed. Mallory, a member of the smuggling group Mara formerly fought against, is hatching an escape plan and needs Mara’s help, that is if her cybernetics can be unleashed.
But even once the escape plan is in motion, one error comes after another. Eventually, a larger group of escapees than Mara imagined are suiting up as guards to hide their identities, but even that goes awry when Rayven and her guardians come upon them almost instantly. Rather than Mallory’s people managing to free her, a stray shot from Rayven during a duel with Mara breaks the restrainer.
One plot hole was that Mara was brought along because there was a barrier that only her cybernetics could break but the group never encounters it.
I’ll stop with the reveals rather than include too many spoilers, but allies, and even old friends and family turn out to be not what they seem.
In the end, an injured Mara and Ishali manage to escape on Rayven’s ship into space and an uncertain future.
The pacing was good. The slower moments set the mood for prison life, and the action sequences delivered.
All Mara wanted was to escape and be free, but in throwing in with Mallory and her group, she became part of a much larger scheme…to overthrow a galaxy wide Council. But in the end, what will Mara decide?
Mara’s Awakening by Leo Flynn, updated copyright of 2022. Learn more about him and the Mara series at LeoFlynn.com.
See my video review at TikTok. No, it’s not quite the same.