Review: Retaliation by Liberty Speidel

Bottom Line

Same intriguing world as Emergence with a better story and improved writing. An odd plotting decision holds it back, but a big step up for sure.


The Review

Retaliation is book two in Liberty Speidel’s superhero detective series, The Darby Shaw Chronicles. If you read my review of Emergence, you’ll probably remember that I wasn’t very impressed by it. I wanted to like it and I did like the world, but the book itself fell flat for me. However, Liberty told me that she thought the series got much better as it went along and it does make sense for a writer’s craft to improve with time and practice. So I was genuinely looking forward to reading Retaliation.

I’m happy to say that I was not let down. There is a significant improvement in the overall writing and the pacing of this story. Darby’s partner, Mark Herman, was my favorite character in Emergence and he’s back to play a big role in this book. He continues to be well-rounded and interesting and he’s really the main character here, making “Darby Shaw Chronicles” a bit of a misnomer. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but Mark is really center stage on this book. That’s not a complaint, because I like the character, just an observation that the title doesn’t quite fit.

My biggest critique concerns the plot and structuring of the story. It begins with a flurry of action that drew me in right away – then falls back to “six weeks earlier.” Even though I’m predisposed to dislike that strategy for hooking my attention, I resolved to keep an open mind. After all, people do get it right on occasion. Unfortunately, this did not prove to be one of those occasions and the story dragged until it caught up with its starting point.

Once we reach that point, the plot moves along nicely and I never found myself wondering when something was finally going to happen. It’s an engaging, though predictable, story that continues to explore the conflict between governmental authority and individual rights. The conflict is driven by a new development in Darby’s powers and we get hints (carefully placed, subtle hints) of another development that I suspect will play a role in book three.

If Emergence was not free (and very short), I would recommend that you begin your reading of The Darby Shaw Chronicles with Retaliation. The first installment of the series is inferior to this second one in many ways and is really more of an extended prologue. You can pick up on everything that happened in Emergence as a matter of backstory while reading Retaliation. However, Emergence doesn’t cost you anything but the hour or so it will take you to read it. So you might as well be fully informed going into book two unless you’re really pressed for time and storage space on your eReader of choice.

To Read or Not to Read

Read. If you liked Emergence, you’re sure to love Retaliation because there is nothing but improvement. If, on the other hand, you didn’t care for Emergence (like me), Retaliation is still worth your time and it just might redeem the series for you.

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