Review: Diving Universe

So my general rule has always been to avoid reviews until I have read an entire series. The problems come when a series is begun, but incomplete. The author has more to write. Do I review or not?

Well, I think I have decided if I have read all available published in a series, I will review. Mostly because there are several series I’ve been reading that I haven’t been reviewing and it’s making me feel like a slacker. I’m not reviewing! I AM reading though.

So I am going to start this new rule with a good one: Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving Universe. She has been writing novels in this universe since 2009. Sometimes short stories, sometimes novellas, and some full-length novels. I have read the novels. All of the short stories I’ve read were already in the novels, so for this review I am going to stick with the novels and novellas.

As of today, this is the list of novels and novellas in this series:

  • Diving Into The Wreck
  • City of Ruins
  • Becalmed
  • The Application of Hope
  • Boneyards
  • Skirmishes
  • The Runabout
  • The Falls
  • Searching For The Fleet
  • The Spires of Denon (X)
  • The Renegat
  • “Escaping Amnthra” (X)
  • Thieves
  • Squishy’s Teams (X)
  • “Maelstrom” (X)

The ones with (X) beside them I haven’t read, most of them intentionally. Squishy’s Teams follows several people on a side mission. I might go back and read it, but I kind of know the fallout because by the time I got it/knew it existed I knew what happened. Escaping Amnthra is on my “want to read” list, but I just haven’t worked up buying it yet. It’s (again) side characters. Both Spires of Denon and Maelstrom are entirely disconnected (as far as I can tell from summaries on Goodreads) from the main characters and I can’t bring myself to pay for them…. if/when she does another Kickstarter and they are in the stretch goals I might pick them up.

I thoroughly enjoy these books. They are not exceptionally long, and several of them are very character driven, the antagonist is the “environment.” Almost none of them are character-versus-character. Not ever like the classic “Beowolf vs. Grendel” dynamic.

I think my favorite is all the characters are realistic. No one is “evil for the sake of evil” and no is “always the good guy.” People are imperfect, flawed, and even the most ethical or “good” have their breaking points and compromises.

My biggest complaint is the age of the characters. Not in the beginning, but as the series continue the characters’ ages…. they are never addressed. Decades occur in the series but the characters “voice” (most of them are written in first person) remain pretty much the same. From the first to the last Boss could be something like thirty or fifty or anything in between. And honestly, given her “voice” in the first book I would have pegged her about forty or forty-five. But that doesn’t make sense if in Searching for the Fleet it’s been like thirty years and she’s still acting like a forty-five year old…. I mean I’m not saying I that there are not seventy-five year old who do amazing things, just… there is nothing in the book that feels like a seventy-five year old. Like I said, it’s my biggest complaint. Either explain human life span is longer and seventy-five is just “middle-aged” or something.

The world grows in complexity over the books, so in the first few it’s just a handful of people working and living. As the series grows, the scope grows until we see government movements. Although the books stay very ‘intimate’ in their perspective of the characters’ scope of the world. The ones used to thinking on a macro level, well they talk about the macro machinations. Most of the characters are more focused on their own personal issues and that feels very real to me.

Without giving spoilers, it’s hard to discuss plots. Especially because parts of later books would spoil earlier books. Most of the books could be read independently of each other, which I think is another strength of the series. They make most sense when read as a series, but if you picked up The Falls, you could read just that book.