Stars: 4 out of 5
I haven’t read any of the original books in the Aliya War series prior to this one. So this was my introduction to the series and the universe the author created, and I must admit that I am hooked.
The world is interesting and well thought-out. I love the idea that instead of terraforming different planets, humanity would modify themselves in order to survive in different environments encountered outside of Earth. Like being able to “shell-up” to survive up to 15 minutes in the hard vacuum for the Miners. It was sad to see that just because humanity spread into the galaxy, the backstabbing and us vs. them mentality wasn’t eradicated. This is not Star Trek. This is a harsh and ruthless world where humans don’t hesitate to enslave other humans if the occasion presents itself.
The characters are usually what makes or breaks a book for me. It can have the best story in the world, but I won’t enjoy it if I can’t connect with at least one of the characters. I’m glad to say that all the characters are wonderful in this. I loved Iz and Kans, and Tahoma, and especially Kristen. I think there was criminally too little of him in this story though.
The bond between the siblings rang very true to me. I could feel and understand Iz’s frustration with her brain-addled brother, but also a mixture of guilt, love, worry and everything else that comes with being an older sister who thinks that she is the reason Kansas is the way he is. Even though that’s not true. She didn’t cause the accident that killed their habitat. In fact, she is the one who went into the vacuum to save her little brother, even though she was also hurt herself. Even though she was only eleven when that happened. But guilt is a tricky thing that doesn’t obey the arguments of reason.
I must admit that I was a bit frustrated with her by the end of the story though. Her absolute pigheadedness grated on my nerves. You are in a hostile environment that you have never experienced before. You don’t know the dangers, yet you persist on charging blindly along and ignoring the advise of the natives. I wanted to slap her silly a few times, and I’m convinced that half of their problems on Earth could have been avoided had she listened to anyone other than herself.
Speaking of hostile environment and fish out of water moment, I loved how Iz’s and Kans’s reaction to being on a planet for the first time in their lives was handled. The things that we take for granted, like the fact that we can go outside and be able to breathe, are new to spaces who spend their lives on ships and space stations – enclosed spaces. For them, all this open space and sky is a source of panic. The feeling of the wind on their face makes them shell up because in space that sudden movement of air means a hole in the hull and precious air leaking into the vacuum. And the idea of eating meat from a butchered animal is a source of disgust.
I am not sure I was totally onboard with the budding love story between Tahoma and Iz though. I felt like it was not necessary, and it didn’t feel natural. It was just kind of shoe-horned in there. The story worked fine even without adding this particular relationship. Especially since the author didn’t really do anything with it in the end.
Like I said before, this is my first book by this author and in this series, but I will definitely check out the next one.
PS: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.