First Cause by Paul West is just as much a political commentary as it is a science fiction story. Set in 2008, terrorist attacks occur all over the world in rapid succession, caused by an extraterrestrial race of humans called Luceri that had left earth generations ago and now want to return and colonize their old home.
The POV switches back and forth between several characters, major and minor, and sometimes does so within even a single paragraph. I’m not the one to claim that omniscient POV is a bad thing. It has its uses when done well. But there were a few occasions where my reading got interrupted by it because I had gotten lost on who was saying/doing/thinking what and where.
There was a similar problem with dialogue, but not as bad. Early on in the book, it felt to me like a bunch of robots were talking, which made it hard to keep track of who was saying what at first. As the story progressed, however, the character dialogue became better developed and more individualized.
The sudden cliffhanger of an ending caught me off guard, but I was fine with that since this book was the first of a trilogy. It was at that point when I realized how much I cared about the characters despite my early misgivings when I had started reading.
On the plus side, West shows that he is learning and improving his craft throughout the course of the book. So much so that I would be willing to read a second book from him, even if it was to just see how much he’s improved.
He has characterization handled well. All the characters felt real, and I ended up caring about them, including the minor characters who contributed almost nothing to the story except to show a wider view of the setting and plot. Personally, I would’ve loved to have seen some of those fillers actually end up doing something other than being just fillers. As it is, they and their scenes could have been eliminated from the plot without negatively affecting the story in any way.
Overall, West has a good story. Without the above problems it would’ve made for an excellent one. But even with those problems it is still a worthwhile read.