Our first impressions of The Ceph

Find out The Space Girls’ first impressions of SPSFC3 contestant, The Ceph: Reborn by Matthew Poehler.

As part of the Self-Published Sci-Fi Competition, my team (The Space Girls) has been given 25 books to read. Of this initial allocation (or ‘slush pile’), we are reading the first 30% and then voting Yes or No on whether we’d like to continue reading further. You can see our full allocation in my previous blog.

Here are the team’s first impressions of The Ceph: Reborn by Matthew Poehler. (You can find all of our first impressions posts here.)

The front cover for The Ceph: RebornBook blurb

An alien species almost annihilated with the dinosaurs. When they awaken in current times, will first contact be the end for humanity?

Bright’s world of hunting and hiding has turned on its tentacles. Elevated by an extra-terrestrial artificial intelligence to awareness, the sentient octopus learns her predecessors intended to guide Earth’s development 65 million years ago—only to be wiped out by the Chicxulub meteor. And with humans now on the brink of destroying the planet, she’s desperate to intervene before her founders arrive from space and eradicate the entire populace.

Stella Uren’s employees are family. So when her fishing vessel is attacked by giant killer squid, she burns with vengeance to hunt down the monsters who murdered her friend. But when she discovers the familiar octopus gardens have been rearranged into arrow shapes, her curiosity takes her down a path to a pivotal confrontation.

Leaving a trail for the revenge-seeking sailor, Bright hopes to stop a catastrophe triggered by her rogue sister but prepares to slaughter in self-defence. And as Stella closes in on her destiny, she can’t help but think she and her crew are headed for a bloody trap.

With all of humankind’s existence at stake, can two species work together to avert an apocalypse?

The Ceph: Reborn is the expansive first book in The Ceph science fiction series. If you like driven protagonists, unique and action-packed takes on the genre, and impeccable research, then you’ll love Matthew W. Poehler’s fascinating vision.

Goodreads / Amazon

Our first impressions

Nancy: Fabulous book so far! In every angle, the book feels very polished and I never felt confused or bored. It feels a bit like the aftermath of the dinosaur extinction segment in the 1960s Fantasia film. Only 65 millions of years after the cataclysm when the alien Cephs recover wifi signal of their colony ships hidden somewhere in Earth and realize their colonists are now devolved into wild animals. The first third of the book is spent using sophisticated technology kidnapping two octopus and 1 female squid to make them intelligent before the Cephs’ impending arrival. Any mistake and our octopus protagonists might get zapped! It felt very refreshing to have a book from the POV of an animal as it becomes increasingly intelligent and the decisions they make every step of the way. I would love to read the rest! (Y)

Katherine: In a sense, the style of this book reminded me of the Children of Time books, painting the history of a species, its uplift, and its interaction with humans in broad strokes. The opening was interesting, with the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs wiping out a colony of Ceph. When the octopi did appear, I didn’t get that close to them as characters, but they did have a charm to them. The fact that the Ceph’s ansibles(?) failed in their attempt to uplift the squid was cool and set up the conflict for later. It is, unfortunately, a book that I loved at the 30% mark and fizzled out later on, with an ending I found a bit disappointing. It also suffered from editing issues that became more of a problem later in the book as my initial interest waned, and made me wish I could change my 30% vote based on my 100% feelings.

Technically: A clumsy writing style, with missing words or commas, or commas that should be semi-colons, and excessive exclamation marks that were endearing at first but less so later. The lack of commas could be very distracting sometimes and led to getting the wrong meaning, and got incredibly frustrating further into the book. It also falls prey to a duplication issue that I have only seen before in a book that attempted to combine ordinary prose and script dialogue, in this instance caused by formatting for implant communications. E.g.  ‘- Bright – “Hello world!” said Bright.’. One or the other would have worked, but not both. Speech is also formatted inconsistently across multiple paragraphs. It has a habit of capitalising some words at random and sometimes slipping into the wrong tense. (Y)

Status: Quarter-finalist