My first “out of my usual genre boundaries” read of 2019 was taken with this mix of Sci-Fi and romance. Intrigued by my discussion with the author in the later parts of her writing process, I’ve decided to give the book a try.
I’ve eventually managed to hold my promise and get to it in March (squeezing it between books #3 and #4 of Holmberg’s ‘The Lost Prophecy’ series).
The book starts with a Sci-Fi-ish prologue, setting the alien characters and the involvement with Earth, as well as their cause. It’s clear the book is not the hard Sci-Fi as it does not go into details one would struggle with understanding.
Then, it shifts to the human characters – three young women dealing with breakup. This part is a bit longer than I’d expect for a book of this length – it takes almost 20% before stuff happens. Yet, Esther managed to make the 20% a good read: while I wondered how much of this I actually need to know, she kept me interested with the way she uses her words. And, when things actually started happening, it took little time to see what of the first 20% was important. The transition from set-up to action was quite smooth – but it also makes writing this harder: I usually stop sharing much around 50-60%. This books starts having moments I can’t talk about because of spoilers around 25%.
Anyway, after said 20% the plots of the human and the alien characters start interweaving and head steadily towards the first confrontation. As someone who likes mad scientists as antagonists, the conflict between pretty much three sides – the renegade scientists, the human females, and the alien team – led to explaining more of the backstory and motivations of the involved factions while touching several Sci-Fi and moral topics such as evolution, genetic enhancements/eugenics, and scientific ethics (or lack of them, in case of some characters).
What surprised me (and can be see as a point both for or against the book) is the fact that a group of just-after-breakup characters seem to suddenly care for Earth’s long-distant future (by long-distant, I mean the end of the solar system – a 10-digit number in years).
Anyway, the first confrontation ends up in a kind of tie (obviously, otherwise there would not be another) leading both sides to try find some plan to further their goals. The altered humans are then tested to discover their special “talents” while a plan is being made, leading to the final confrontation which, eventually, is more about talking than fighting.
The book felt like having a good mix of funny and deep moments woven together and the Sci-Fi parts being done with decent explanation yet sill well-understandable to anyone.
It’s hard to really rate this as I’m biased both in favor (mutual advice sharing between me and the author) and against (some degree of genre prejudice – the book was said to be paranormal by the author at some point, which, to me, means “haunted houses filled with traps” and not this kind of book). Take the 80% with a grain of salt for that purpose.