Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Gabriel's Redemption from the author after I sent out a request for Indie Sci-Fi books to be considered for inclusion in my upcoming blog post on NYX Book Reviews. Umstead was not guaranteed inclusion in the article nor was a review even mentioned. However, after reading his book I would like to include it in my list of recommended reads.
Gabriel's Redemption is a near future science fiction work that includes all of the hallmarks of top quality sci-fi. Umstead has created a readable, accessible and highly engaging world where intrigue, aliens, drugs and intergalactic travel work together seamlessly. There is never a moment in this book where you think to yourself: well now that didn't make a lick of sense! Instead we are presented with a combination of real and imagined science that is so commonplace to the characters it never occurs to the reader to question it.
Evan Gabriel is a taciturn and troubled man who has buried so much of himself in order to survive the horrors and injustices he has witnessed that he has become a mere shell of the hero we come to know and love by the end of the book. Quickpaced, Gabriel's Redemption is an easy read. It flows from scene to scene and moment to moment flawlessly, always leaving the reader begging for more. By the third chapter I was so hooked I read the entire novel in one night.
Umstead deals with issues like honor, responsibility and human nature. While deep in thematic content the forward thrust of the story never stops. In this way Umstead has been able to create a rich, dynamic and believable world with a cast of characters who entertain and inspire. The bad guys are quality villains and the aliens are just strange enough to evoke the reader's inherent xenophobia. At the core of the story is one man's pain and regret and the opportunity to redeem himself.
My only complaints about Gabriel's Redemption are not reasons not to pick it up.
1. It's a military based fiction which I personally don't generally enjoy. Umstead does a phenomenal job of making the military jargon and topics accessible to non-military readers without sacrificing the details. It just doesn't speak to me. I was able to enjoy the story despite this which if anything speaks to the author's skill at weaving a compelling yarn.
2. It's not in paperback. This is one I'd love to have on my shelf.
Similar books you may enjoy:
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
(reviewed the day of purchase)