The Alignment Ingress By Thomas Greanias: A Worthy Read?

The first novella from the augmented reality game Ingress.

This may not be a popular post among the Ingress community because those who are playing this augmented reality game and have read the novella seems to love it.  However, just because everyone seems to love Nolan’s Batman series doesn’t mean that there aren’t common voices within that have a different opinion.  Here are a few observations for sharing if you are curious to know if The Alignment Ingress is your cup of tea.

First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan of Ingress and its communities.  I have spent many walking hours playing the game.  I enjoy reading books that are spawned from a game, like the novels from World of Warcraft.  Reading The Alignment Ingress, I would expect to have a better clarity on the lore and the characters involved.  I enjoy reading mysterious and code solving types of novels like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol.  This novella has a promising start with a picture of Queen of Sheba and a celestial map of Virgo – both appear to match each other perfectly.  There is a treasure to be discovered.  The Alignment Ingress has a fair amount of military weaponry jargon, which I am OK with as I have once ground through Tom Clancy’s mightily thick books.  But here lies the challenge, this novella is short.  Packing all these ingredients in and making it an entertaining read is no easy feat.

There are two main characters in this novella: Conrad Yeats and Hank Johnson who seek ancient treasure and truth.  Conrad Yeats is a known character from the author’s previous books.  So if you have not read any of Greanias’s books in the past, you probably would find it a little bit hard to relate to some of the characters because character development in this novella is scarce.  There are Ingress related explanations dotted throughout the book – which is good for those who play the game more than following the lore in Ingress website.  What I find missing is how the dots connect to each other.  Yes, I now know what exotic matter is, even chaotic matter that is not yet live in the game.  ADA, the female voice from the game.  Various organizations.  And portals of course.  But how do all these really link to each other?  More importantly, what is the Shapers and the real agendas of different entities?  The novella doesn’t say.  Out of nowhere, the two factions – Resistance and Enlightened – are mentioned.  But why such division from the start?  Who are leading the factions?  How do the characters in this novella relate to these factions?  It doesn’t say either.

On the puzzle solving bits, the beginning was promising.  I was anticipating a Da Vinci Code-like journey.  Throughout the mid section of the book, more insights mixed with Biblical events are thrown in.  It is only till the very end when the solution is revealed.  It is a great ending no doubt despite a lack of depth.  However, I wish I was able to solve the mystery alongside with the narration as the plot progresses like Dan Brown’s books.

There is a fair bit of technical jargon with regards to drones and explosive that lost me for a moment.  Not because I have no interest in the topic.  This novella does not have the luxury of the length of Tom Clancy’s books that explain the parts in great details.  But I enjoy seeing how modern day gadgets like Nexus devices and the social media site Google+ are being mentioned.  There seems to be a tinny bit of romance too.  I guess only those who follow the author’s previous books may be able to relate.

All in all, maybe I am expecting too much, The Alignment Ingress is still a pretty good read for the most hardcore fans.  Ironically, I seem to enjoy reading a link from the novella that leads to a chapter from another up-coming book by Felicia Hajra-Lee called An Exotic Matter the most.  There is a fair bit of suspense and an interesting character development within.  I am curious about what that may turn out.

The Alignment Ingress comes in two digital versions (as far as I know).  I bought the Kindle version.  On a hindsight, if I were to have a Nexus tabulate, the Google Book version would have been a better choice.  Because the novella contains links to external sites and that don’t open well in Kindle PaperWhite, I have to toggle between reading on a Kindle and on a PC so as to dive into these extra bits of the story.

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