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February 20, 2024
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Review of Will Scifi’s “Nova’s Blade”

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Promotional material for “Nova’s Blade” (2022).

Imagine a dystopian future where the general population lives in poverty without access to adequate food or water, while the capital city lives in splendor without want for anything. The main form of entertainment in this world comes from watching poor people fight each other to the death for the chance to win a life of wealth and fame. Surprisingly, I am not talking about Suzanne Collins’ popular 2008 novel “The Hunger Games.” Rather, this is the plotline of Will Scifi’s newest novel, “Nova’s Blade”.
Scifi—an interesting pen name choice for a primarily science-fiction author—is a California State University graduate student majoring in business marketing. His biography states that he writes mainly science fiction that touches upon themes in modern day culture and society. “Nova’s Blade” is an example of this—this “Hunger Games” meets “Squid Game” meets “Ready Player One” novel has the potential to interest regular science fiction readers. Unfortunately, it falls short of expectations.
The basic concept of “Nova’s Blade” is that Nova, a young girl living a miserable and dangerous life, is kidnapped one night and forced to compete in a game show. This game show is called “Last Valkyrie,” and it is incredibly popular among the general population. Nova herself even watched it as a kid. The winner of “Last Valkyrie” is promised marriage into a powerful family where they will live lives of wealth, fame and luxury. The world is under the assumption that women volunteer for “Last Valkyrie” willingly, but this is not the case. After being kidnapped and forced to fight her way through a series of dangerous trials—think “Squid Game”—Nova is one of the 32 remaining women who qualify for the show, and a bomb is then implanted in her head. If she tells anyone the truth about the show, the producers will detonate the bomb. The only way to survive is to kill the other Valkyries and win the show.
To anyone who has read “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “Nova’s Blade” will feel alarmingly familiar. Nova grows up in an impoverished area where there is little food or water, and the general population works dangerous jobs to make a meager living. However, the capital city has everything they could ever want or need. They even get outrageous body modifications that are considered strange by the regular population. Sounds very reminiscent of Panem, does it not? The Valkyries made their debut appearance on the Felix Neptune show, and it is beyond obvious that Felix Neptune is Scifi’s version of Caesar Flickerman, the host of the Hunger Games. All Valkyries have their own servant assigned to them; these servants are convicted terrorists who are resigned to spend their days injected with a serum that makes them obedient. Faithful “Hunger Games” readers know that Scifi’s inspiration for this comes from the Avoxes assigned to aid tributes. Valkyries are encouraged to stand out and be well-liked, as it is the only way to secure patrons who will provide the necessary resources they need for fighting—Hunger Games sponsors, anyone? Randomly, Nova fakes a miscarriage—which is never mentioned again—much like Katniss’s faked pregnancy in “Catching Fire.” One of Nova’s managers and makeup artists is even named Flavius…same as one of Katniss Everdeen’s makeup artists.
I acknowledge that it is not uncommon for authors to get inspiration from other books, especially from popular series or classic works. It is well known that the popular “Fifty Shades” franchise was inspired by the “Twilight” series. However, there is a line between inspiration and plagiarism, and Scifi toes that line too often for my liking. “Nova’s Blade” lacks originality and quality, and it fails to get the reader invested in the storyline. It reminds me of a short story I wrote when I was 10 that basically plagiarized half the plot of “Harry Potter.”
The lack of consistency and constant disappearance of seemingly important plot points distracts from the overall plot. Multiple seemingly important items are never given any context or background and are never mentioned again in the novel after serving their initial purpose. One example of this is the Library Information Android monolith.
To the regular science-fiction reader, it is well known that these books play on ideas and concepts that are considered futuristic and not yet a reality in today’s world. However, Scifi goes beyond futuristic, and instead introduces half-baked concepts that just seem laughably impossible in Nova’s world. Early in the games, Nova is gifted the “Library Information Android” by a patron who is, of course, never mentioned again. This library injects knowledge into your brain through a “synch,” making the learner automatically process all the information without any work on their part. Of course, Nova uses it to learn everything there is to know about fighting. Convenient, right? Suddenly Nova is an expert fighter through no hard work of her own, and absolutely no one questions it—not the other Valkyries, not her managers, not even her trainer who witnessed her atrocious attempt at fighting just one day prior. And, as with so many plot points, the monolith is basically never mentioned again. No explanation as to where it came from, who has access to it, or how it works. Library synchs aren’t mentioned at any other time in the novel as something normal that anyone else does—for all we know, Nova just used the only Library Information Android in existence, and no one else knows this technology exists. As a reader, it appears that Scifi was too lazy to spend a chapter actually training Nova on how to fight, so he just decided to let Artificial Intelligence take over instead.
Along with all these plot holes and stolen ideas, the writing itself was subpar. The characters lack depth, the imagery is basic, and everything feels all too predictable. I understand that I was sent an advanced reader copy, so the final edits had not yet been made to the book. However, the extraordinary amount of spelling errors, lack of punctuation, missing extra words or full sentences, and grammar mistakes made it impossible for me to get fully invested in the story. Hopefully, Scifi has a good editor who can iron out all those mistakes before the final version is released.
 “Nova’s Blade” will be released to the public on Feb. 1, 2022. It may interest readers who enjoy science fiction and dystopian novels. However, I would be hard-pressed to recommend this book. I say spend your time reading “Ready Player One” or “Ready Player Two” if you haven’t already. However, if you are interested in checking out “Nova’s Blade,” or the upcoming sequel, you can find Will Scifi on Facebook, Amazon, or at www.willscifi.com. A free excerpt of “Nova’s Blade” can be read on the website.