My thanks to the author Joey Rogers and Booktasters for a review copy of the book.
The Belfore Void is a sci-fi story with an element of mystery. Out story opens thirty years in the past in Belfore University where PhD students Jenny and Daniel are setting up for a televised experiment for a battery they have been developing with revolutionary storage capacity. Their advisor Prof Rutledge is the stereotypical guide, taking all the credit and glory but doing none of the work. During the experiment however, something goes wrong, and instead of merely absorbing energy, the device opens up a portal which drags in Jenny and the Professor who are never seen again. The portal is named the ‘void’ and establishes a whole new branch of study.
In the present, we meet another set of PhD students working on ‘voidology’. Andi (or Andalusia) is the daughter of the dean and is part of the programme only as part of a ‘deal’ with her father as he needs a certain number of students on the programme to ensure the grant the university survives on, while he has agreed to pay for acting school for what Andi really wants to do is act (in his and her defence, she does hold a physics degree besides two others). Andi thinks the voidology programme a hoax for nothing substantial has emerged from the last thirty years of research and treats the exhibitions she is in-charge of as just another acting job, taking little interest in its actual content. Then her father pulls her up for her poor grades and when she agrees to tutoring to address this, she suddenly begins to find that voidology may have something in it after all. And her extraordinary ability to retain anything she hears turns out to be a way to contribute back to the programme, something she is finally beginning to enjoy.
Alongside, parallel research into the void is being carried out by a mysterious figure calling himself the Prophet who seems to induct physicists into his cult for so long as they are useful; he is also bent on sabotaging or destroying all other work on the void. Soon enough we see the Prophet begins to get interested in Andi and her abilities.
This turned out to be a quick and enjoyable read, one which kept me engaged all through. Starting off I found some of the science, specifically the descriptions of the battery the students were working on a little hard to get my head around, but as we go on, I found it much easier to follow along. I enjoyed the descriptions of the coil’s working and also what was inside the void, which also ends up giving us a few surprises as we go along.
Andi is an interesting main character; sometimes her attitude to things makes one not like her quite so much, but overall one does end up rooting for her. The others—Bryan, Vance and the twins were quite likeable, as was the change in their relationship with Andi from one of animosity to close friendship, something Andi for one has never had. (I also liked the change in Andi’s attitude towards the programme once she begins to understand its value and enjoy it.) I really liked the twins and wish we saw more of them; the secret behind them was pretty cute.
The mystery itself while not extraordinary or entirely unguessable, was fun enough and I liked its twists and turns. There are hidden identities and secrets which do come as a surprise. I was trying to guess at all kinds of twisted solutions in my mind but those were not the right path at all. Some questions, like what became of those who’ve disappeared in the void remain unanswered and one does wonder about them because of the possibilities revealed by Andi and her friends’ experiences with it, especially towards the end.
Overall, I quite enjoyed reading this one. 3.75 stars rounded off to 4.