TPG Reviews: Watcher’s Web, by Patty Jansen (Return of the Aghrians #1)
Alright, so I know I said I’d be doing a new taster next, but I decided it would be best to catch up on my reviews first. Anyway…
In this case, DO judge the book by its cover.
Her name is Jessica, but most people in the Australian country town where she lives call her “freak”. She casts webs of power, reading the feelings of animals and telling them what to do. Nobody knows what causes it, least of all her.
One fateful day, her “web” connects with a stranger, and stray power causes the plane in which she’s travelling to crash in an alien world. An accident? The more she discovers about herself and the world in which she has landed, the more she doubts it. She finds out that she is a survivor from an ancient race that once travelled the stars. Her ancestors were powerful and dangerous, and it seems at least two people want her: the man at the other end of her “web”, and the man who’s desperate to help her get back home.
Both claim they love her, and want only the best for her, but knowing nothing of the alien world, how does she know who to believe?
My rating: 4/10
Well, this is annoying.
I first came into contact with this book some time back, as you may recall; I wasn’t keen on the cover, but the blurb and opening pulled me in and I quickly decided to read the whole book. That decision, sadly, ultimately proved a mistake. Watcher’s Web starts off interesting but soon gets bogged down in its own worldbuilding, with the plot only really coming together in the last quarter or so of the book. The resulting read, needless to say, was far from fun.
As a protagonist, Jessica could have been brilliant: her personality is well-defined and entirely believable given her history as an outcast, and her power set is downright intriguing. Unfortunately, the plot almost seems designed to never make use of her: Jessica spends much of the story as little more than an observer, with little choice but to follow those around her. Jessica expresses her frustration at this on numerous occasions, both internally or otherwise; I, by the end, was sharing such sentiments.
Compounding the above is that neither of the love interests are particularly likable. Both come across as manipulative and possessive, which largely mooted the question of who to trust in my mind. Admittedly, the book does a good job of playing with the readers’ expectations here, and I changed my mind several times as to who the “right” man would be; the problem was that I simply wanted Jessica to ditch both men, which clearly isn’t what was intended.
Aside from Jessica’s powers, much of the imagined world is simply okay. The aliens in particular were disappointingly ordinary: most were simply human (or close to human) in appearance, and the alien Pengali were just a liiiiitle bit too close to Avatar’s Na’vi for my liking at times. I wouldn’t call the worldbuilding bad as such, but it certainly wasn’t enough to offset the shortcomings elsewhere.
Watcher’s Web may be free, but there are better ways to spend your reading time. There were a few moments of excitement, mostly towards the end, but not nearly enough to justify the story’s length. Best to leave this one unread, I say.
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