The Forever Watch is a beautifully written, engaging sci fi read featuring a compelling mystery, imaginative action scenes, and characters you respect even with their flaws. There are so many layers here and so much going on with the plot that it is clear this is a book written with intelligence and over time. I was hooked from the very beginning, the mystery drawing me in and the action keeping me rapt until the end. It’s such a simple premise, a typical murder mystery, but it is so much more (i.e., aliens, AI, psi powers, and the fate of humanity). Even more impressive, the author avoids a happy ever after ending yet provides one of the most satisfying reads I’ve had all year.
Plot: Hana is a City Planner on a generation ship Noah – the last of humanity seeking a new homeworld after a long forgotten disaster destroyed Earth’s population. Hana owes a favor to policeman Leon and is convinced to help track down the person responsible for the death of his superior. But once found, they will wish they never learned the truth.
Although the plot summary may sound like a simple murder mystery, what we have is a story full of many layers that will come together at the end. This isn’t a dystopian and there are no evil mustache twirling villains or cheesy romantic love stories. Clues build upon clues and the murder is one very small piece of a huge puzzle affecting every part of their huge generational ship. Add in some very interesting technological feats, as well as psi powers, and you get a mesmerizing mix of hard sci fi, well explained and without logic holes, along with a very warm and beating human heart at the middle.
The POV is told from Hana’s perspective – she is intelligent, grounded, and thoughtful. She grows quite a bit during the course of the book. Starting competent but with the challenges she and Leon will face, truly learns how strong she can be. As well, Leon will be tested as harshly, finding that the means will have to justify the end. What started as a quest to find the killer of his mentor will instead result into him betraying everyone who trusted him. He is a character full of pathos and the perfect complement for Hana’s character. She’s white collar and he’s blue collar.
The world created on the Noah is vast and with a strong noir feel. Ramirez hits all the right notes on the science and the science fiction – giving us enough information to provide veracity but not so much that it becomes onerous to read. But he never loses sight of the characters, either.
The story is allowed to shape and evolve over a period of time. Nothing feels rushed yet neither does anything feel out of place. That’s what makes this such a satisfying read. Intelligently written, full of emotion, with rich and very fascinating action scenes (the telekinetic battles are breathtaking), and a strong mystery with a great red herring at the beginning (the tiger they caught by the tail).
This is a book I highly recommend for those who want an intelligent, mature, sophisticated, and well-plotted read. This is the type of book written for the story and not to make a buck or pretend to be an author.
Reviewed from an ARC.