Review of “Retrograde” by Peter Cawdron

Retrograde by Peter Cawdron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Retrograde, the author takes you to a colony on Mars where astronauts, engineers, and other skilled experts are working for a space program. The protagonist is female and portrayed as compassionate, impetuous, and brave. I thought the beginning of the story was intriguing, watching characters from different countries getting to know each other on a foreign planet and finding shared ground through their work. After a disaster strikes earth that the colonists don’t know the true details of, the plot takes off. The author had an interesting concept behind his book, making you think twice about the type of threat the colonists are up against on Mars. His plot is extremely unpredictable, which I like. Unfortunately, the overall execution of the story felt lackluster, with the characters coming across as soggy, and missing edginess and depth. The characters’ main coping skill seemed to be to cry a lot in response to the dangers at hand, and the story was filled with awkward interactions and banter throughout. In my opinion, the education about Mars was also overdone, sometimes overtaking the chapters and diluting the plot. Also, at times, descriptions in the book made it difficult to take the story seriously. For example, there was an overemphasis on characters getting naked and putting on space clothes, donning adult diapers underneath their suits. At one point, the lead character strangely compares the group’s grunting while climbing Mars terrain to the sounds of a porn movie. Overall, the unique plot kept the story going, but the writing could have been more daring and cohesive to pack a greater punch.

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