Final Exam: The Only College in the Universe Where the Final Exam May Kill You by Shaun J. McLaughlin
Published on December 7, 2016 by Raiders and Rebels Press
Final Exam begins a series, written in the classic sci-fi visions of Asimov and Heinlein, that examines human society as people expand through our galaxy. In this future, there is no dystopian dictatorship, no cyber-menace overlord, and no inter-species warfare. Humanity faces its historic enemy, humankind, but under different skies. Even as civility and civilization advance through the millennia, greed, gangs and malice remain as wolves chasing down the weak and vulnerable.
Final Exam introduces Shane O’Ryan, an idealistic, rich kid, about to graduate from an elite and secret academy that trains special agents. He and his secret fraternity investigate infractions of the colonization charter related to protection of intelligent species and the ecosystems on which they depend.
For his final exam, Shane and his student partner visit a snowy vacation planet to solve a mystery—how could a sub-intelligent species leap 50,000 years in evolution in months to harness fire and develop a language. Their investigation leads them into deadly conflict with a sophisticated gang trying to gain control of the planet for its mineral riches.
What I Liked
- The characterization in this novella is decently done. I wasn't a huge fan of the fact that everyone looks the same, but I definitely understand McLaughlin's reasons behind doing so. This also helped Alana to stand out which helped him to make his points throughout the piece.
- McLaughlin definitely has a strong imagination. This piece was filled with whimsical yet believable aspects of a futuristic society. I would be interested in reading more from this author. However, I believe that he truly needs more space to write more effectively.
What I Didn't Like As Much
- I didn't think this book was long enough to truly build up suspense. I would have loved to see more of the characters and to truly delve into their personalities to understand who they were. That would have made me care so much more about them and what was going on.
- I have so many leftover questions! What happened to Alana and Shane's relationship? Did they stay friends? I hated that I was left wondering about so many different things.
- What the heck was up with their teacher being so very concerned with Shane's sex life? As a teacher, I was pretty disturbed by this. I found the ending the most disturbing. There are just some lines that should not be crossed in the teacher/student relationship.
Again, I didn't completely hate McLaughlin's writing. I strongly believe that his writing is more suited for a longer piece of literature.