A solid first book from new author Valden Bush.
Firstly, the author gets extra kudos from me for not over doing the world building in their story. I tend to dislike books which require 10 chapters of description about said world, before you reach anything that resembles the actual plot. Valden however balances the need to build a world and tell the plot, perfectly. There’s enough world building to give context to the story and set the scene, but not so much as to be off putting and detract from the actual story that is being told.
The story itself has a delicate balance of sci-fi and romance, with a subtle undertone of mystery as to Nero’s hidden history and the true reasons for banishing individuals from the planet.
I enjoyed Stele’s and Ariane’s love developing from a distance, literally across a galaxy, as it’s a different narrative to the usual romance plots.
It also allowed Stele to organically form meaningful connections with new friends on Alton, in particular Questa who is gender neutral, which again is another welcome difference to see in this story.
I really felt like the author spoke to the power of chosen family and friends in this book. That Stele only needed to find that one person on Alton (Kian) who could see past her rough exterior and encourage her to accept the good, the bad and the ugly about herself. In doing so, Stele was able to get her life together, accept herself and ultimately be empowered to achieve her destiny.
Whilst i’m not overly particular as to whether a book has an epilogue, i think it was a perfect fit for this book. It tied everything together and allowed the reader to see where both the main and supporting characters end up and what becomes of Nero.
The last few scenes encapsulate what i felt throughout the whole story, that home is wherever you make it, with whomever you choose.
I received an ARC of this book for review from Butterworth Books, in exchange for an honest review.
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