You know, my first impulse was to call bullshit on the formatting. It starts at the end, sort of, and intersperses it with the past. Redux of Valante's previous story.
It takes a while (or it took me a while) to get into, but afterwards, I can kind of see why. It's not completely ineffective, but (and I feel like a "judge" on ANTM for saying this) I really wanted to see the author branch out, try something new, show us xe can do other stuff and isn't just a one-trick pony.
Cyclopes is interesting. Why is the ship name plural? I mean, I guess you can spin it, but it made me take pause.
The mind-cage. I kept wondering about that. At first, I kind of went with Shane's blind faith that Mark was in there, but what if it's not Mark in there but some horrible other monster thing? Or what if when he pulls Mark out, Mark's no longer Mark but some horrible monster thing? etc., etc., etc. Made the getting-out weirder.
It's...gimmicky, definitely. And yeah, the story doesn't quite completely gel together. Even though it goes in a different direction, it really does seem like a redux of the first one. I don't like how the Alex thing felt like an incomplete plot arc, which doesn't make sense, since I didn't want the Alex thing to happen to begin with.