Sci-Fi November: Review: Orbs II: Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith


About Orbs II: Stranded

Dr. Sophie Winston and her team of survivors fend off the alien invasion in Orbs II: Stranded, the second book in Nicholas Sansbury Smith's bestselling Orbs series.

At the end of the world, who can you trust?

The aliens have invaded, wiping out almost all life on earth. Their goal: water. Huge spaceships are draining the oceans, and the few remaining humans have been herded into farms, where their bodies are harvested to support the growing alien army.

Humanity's last chance lies in the biospheres that have been planted secretly across the globe. But all is not peaceful in the biosphere led by Dr. Sophie Winston. With resources dwindling and tensions high, her small group of survivors is divided. Some want to fight, some want to stay hidden, and Sophie just wants to keep everyone alive.

When one of their own, eleven-year-old Jeff, is kidnapped by the Organics, Sophie is forced to pick sides. With the help of a promising new magnetic weapon, the biosphere team just might have a fighting chance to save Jeff and the world--if they live long enough to use it.

About the Author

Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the author of several post-apocalyptic books and short stories. He worked for the State of Iowa for nearly 10 years before switching careers to focus on his one true passion--writing. When he isn't daydreaming about the apocalypse he's likely racing in triathlons around the Midwest. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family and several rescued animals.

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My Thoughts

(I received a copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

Nicholas Sansbury Smith's Orbs II: Stranded continues the story begun in Orbs. As with most second books in a trilogy, the aim is to open up the world, make the threats an even larger obstacle, and put everybody into tight situations while paving way for the big finale in book three. Sometimes these 'middle child' books fail to deliver or lack a satisfying enough hook, but Smith does a good job of keeping his story flowing while making Stranded feel like a worthwhile read in its own right.

In the prior novel, aliens (dubbed the Organics in this series) invaded Earth and began stripping the planet of its water supply. The human population was decimated, and it seemed like Dr. Sophie Winston and her team of research scientists may have been the only survivors. So, it's a bit of a shock to learn that the aliens are actually keeping a good number of people alive and imprisoning them for later consumption by the bug-like ground troops of Spiders and Worms.

After Jeff, a child that Sophie and a Marine named Overton rescued in the previous book, is abducted, Overton launches a rescue mission and discovers a few members of his old platoon are still alive.

This inciting event lays the groundwork for the story and allows Smith to expand the scope of his series. The human farms, and the existence of another survivor, Alex, from another one of NTC's failed biosphere projects, help to round out the idea that maybe humanity is not so doomed after all. The introduction of two new aliens species, though, such as the Steam Beast, a massive triceratops-like behemoth, certainly put the team through their paces.

There's also a greater focus on the characters and their relationships to one another in this outing. Sophie and Overton are at each others throats constantly and the fatigue of leadership is taking its toll on both, while Holly, the biosphere's psychiatrist, struggles with hopelessness. Stranded is a more emotionally engaged novel than its predecessor, but the main focus is still on the war between humanity's last remnants and the Organics as they battle for a drastically altered Earth. The focus on character development is certainly welcomed, and nicely done, and sets up a touching, emotionally charged climax.

Smith draws the various elements of Stranded together in an action-packed finale that has a few shockers and revelations, particularly in regards to the true nature of the Organics. As with its predecessor, this book charges on full-steam ahead and is a rousing, energetic read. Fans of fast-paced, military science fiction should find a lot to enjoy in the Orbs series, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Smith resolves things in the final book, Orbs III: Redemption.

Order orbs II: Stranded at amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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