|Hardcover, 179 pages|
Acquired January 2012
Read May 2012
by Mark Michalowski
The last attempt at a standalone Professor Bernice Summerfield novel, The Big Hunt, was pretty unimpressive, part of that deriving from the fact that it felt like it took place to a rootless character with no history before the book. The Tree of Life avoids that problem nicely, beginning and ending on the Braxiatel Collection, and in a way that actually sets up what's to come in the next few books. Even beyond that, though, Bernice is better characterized then she has been in some of her other novels; though plot obviously dominates as it does in this type of sf novel, Michalowski keeps her lively by keeping the narration Bernice's voice, and also bringing Joseph along, who gives Bernice someone to spark against. Obviously this is less essential in prose than in audio (which is usually the only medium where Joseph is really used), but it actually works well here, too.
The plot, which once again feature evil corporate types, isn't terribly innovative, but some cool ideas do come up in the course of its unfolding, most especially in the very well-depicted climax. All in all, this is a decent adventure, but the Bernice novels really do pale before the audios, anthologies, and novellas, making me glad that after this, Big Finish largely abandoned the format for Bernice's continuing adventures.