In LaMora’s didactic science fiction thriller, an aimless peace officer on a mission to rescue two children from a war-torn planet finds himself on a journey of personal transformation.
When a sentient badger tasks Hayes MacGruder and his partner Murphy to find and return two girls living on a world that has been ravaged by war and recently deemed uninhabitable, all Hayes wants is to finish the mission as soon as possible and leave the polluted, rat-infested planet and its roaming bands of cannibals far behind. But when he learns that one of the girls is actually his daughter from a past life (he was a bank robber in the Old West), he realizes that this fateful meeting with his progeny from a previous life—as well as other members of his “spirit cluster”—is actually the universe giving him yet another chance to rewrite his story by making the right decisions in his life. But little does he comprehend that the fate of every living thing in the universe may very well depend on the choices he makes. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly metaphorical (Hayes and company must find a diamond that contains “the Story of the Universe” and return it to its rightful place), and not only does character development fall to the wayside but the narrative verges on proselytizing. Although the profoundly powerful message of the novel—the implications of living an unprincipled life—is communicated effectively through diary entries that a senator’s daughter wrote in 2006, that thematic potency is diluted when the author inserts numerous moralizing diatribes that not only affect the book’s narrative flow but take focus off of the characters and their story.
An intriguing science fiction adventure with a message that becomes heavy-handed at times.