Zarkseven's Reviews > Mass Effect: Ascension

Mass Effect by Drew Karpyshyn
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Jan 09, 11

bookshelves: video-games, science-fiction
Read in February, 2010, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I feel immersed in all things Mass Effect lately. Aside from playing Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360 and playing Mass Effect Galaxy on my iPod Touch, I’ve been reading the Mass Effect: Ascension audiobook. Author Drew Karpyshyn was the lead writer on the first Mass Effect game, is co-lead writer on Mass Effect 2, and also wrote the first Mass Effect novel, Mass Effect: Revelation. I read and reviewed that novel. How does this one stack up?

LIKED

Side Universe. I like the separation of the plots of the games and the novels. It gives the novels a little more credence that they aren’t just tacked on money grabs, and gives Karpyshyn an opportunity to expand the universe. References to the events of the first Mass Effect game feel natural and not forced. (As a side note, references to this novel are found in Mass Effect 2 as well.)

Uncharted Territory. I enjoyed the attention given to the Quarians in the novel. Of the alien species in the Mass Effect universe, the Quarians are probably one of the more interesting ones. They created the Geth, who rebelled on them and drove them from their home world (and played a huge part in the first game). They live as part of a vast Migrant Fleet that roams the galaxy, and live most of their lives in environmental suits, giving them an aura of both mystery and suspicion that’s well suited for exploration. They do get a little attention in Mass Effect 2 during Tali’s loyalty mission, but their lifestyle was not really given the attention it is here. Also, the effects of the environmental suit on Gillian played perfectly into her story as well, like a natural fit. I hope other species get fleshed out a little more in the upcoming third novel.

NOT SO MUCH

Assumptions. (Spoilers) I was really distracted by the reaction of Kahlee to Gillian’s changes after they leave the Academy. My first though was that she was acting strangely due to unknown effects from the Cerberus medicines she was given, but that’s not even considered. But when there is some discussion about how her autistic tendencies are lessening and her biotic growth is improving, it’s immediately assumed that it’s because she is no longer affected by the Cerberus drug. It just seemed a little convenient that their assumptions were correct, as they didn’t seem like the right ones at that stage of the novel. Grayson also rightly assumes exactly where the group flees to from Omega.

Character Missteps. The lesser characters in the novel seemed a little one-dimensional. Jiro’s motivations seemed unclear. Nick, the student who mocks Gillian and gets tossed across the cafeteria for it, is given multiple scenes to establish his character, when he could have easily been introduced in the cafeteria scene to similar effect.

RECOMMEND?

I would not recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with the Mass Effect universe. But it works well as a gap-bridger between the first two games, and it was nice to see references to some of the events of the story built into the game, like the introduction of Omega, or Talia’s antagonism towards Cerberus because of what they did on the flotilla. It’s not a long read, and if you are craving more Mass Effect, give it a shot. Don’t expect a literary masterpiece, but rather a solid tie-in novel.
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