IN THE QUICK by Kate Hope Day

A young, ambitious female astronaut’s life is upended by a fiery love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew in this brilliantly imagined novel in the tradition of Station Elevenand The Martian.

June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention, who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive.

She seeks out James, her uncle’s former protégée, also brilliant, also difficult, who has been trying to discover why Inquiry’s fuel cells failed. James and June forge an intense intellectual bond that becomes an electric attraction. But the love that develops between them as they work to solve the fuel cell’s fatal flaw threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create–and any chance of bringing the Inquiry crew home alive.

Equal parts gripping narrative of scientific discovery and charged love story, In the Quick is an exploration of the strengths and limits of human ability in the face of hardship and the costs of human ingenuity. At its beating heart are June and James, whose love for each other is eclipsed only by their drive to conquer the challenges of space travel.


Title : In The Quick
Author : Kate Hope Day
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : science fiction
Publisher : Random House
Release Date : March 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

The best part of this story is the synopsis.

The worst part? The dialogue has no quotation marks. You have to pay attention and filter out action from words and all I’ll say is I’m glad this was a short read. But if that’s a deal breaker for you, now you know.

This would probably make a great movie as there is some The Martian-esque similarities as far as disaster and thinking on your feet but in space. But where I hear the book The Martian is as good as the movie, in this case, were this ever to be adapted, the same would not be said.

What I did find interesting were the literary paralells to a beloved classic, which I did not pick up on until quite far into the story, but once I saw I couldn’t unsee. It doesn’t stick to said plot 100% — it couldn’t — but where it can, it does. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t salvage this, either.

This is a story I wish I could’ve loved because of the interesting plot/themes but the execution, and main character, and lack of punctuation, really dragged down.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

EVERGREEN by Cari Z.

Soldiers. Explorers. Lovers.

Broken apart.

Cy Konstantin and Scottie Andrews are supposed to make Project Evergreen’s one-way trip to Mars together. A near-fatal accident during training knocks Cy into a coma for half a year, and out of Project Evergreen. He works his way back to Scottie’s side, but he can’t rejoin the mission. Once Scottie leaves, they’re destined to live millions of miles apart for the rest of their lives.

A deadly accident on Mars might spell the end of their distant romance, though—or be the thing that saves it.


Title : Evergreen
Author : Cari Z.
Format : eBook
Page Count : 59
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : January 13, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I wanted something short and possibly sweet as I’m between reads right now and figured why not give this a try! Having arduously compiled all my unreads books on a spreadsheet, including all my eBooks, all that hard work paid off as my eyes immediately gravitated to it (after having long since forgotten about it), and boy am I glad I did.

Right off the hop I was enjoying the story and the narrative but wasn’t sure about the characters. We had members of a crew brought together to man a mission to Mars as a one-way trip and within said crew was the charming and gregarious American astronaut and the rather reserved Russian one and I though okay sure, here we go. But. But.

While we don’t see every moment of their evolving friendship into a romance, as this is a novella and we do skip around a bit, I was definitely sold before the end. And this goes in different directions than you might expect!

This might not be a new favourite but I’m pretty pleased I one-clicked this and was glad to have been entertained by it for a little while on this saturday evening. Additionally? Also very happy to knock it off the tbr and into the read pile.

THE STONE SKY by N. K. Jemisin

This is the way the world ends… for the last time. 

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.


Title : The Stone Sky
Author : N. K. Jemisin
Series : The Broken Earth (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 324
Genre : fantasy / science fiction / dystopia
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : August 15, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3.75 star review

Despite the fact that there were some truly lovely bits in this final installment, overwhelmingly this doesn’t rate as high as the rest of the series — particularly book one. And that’s due to many factors. Not the least being that this just felt like.. too much for my brain to grasp. And it was already trying to handle a lot; there was just so much extra info that just buried us (me). I feel like for every two things I could absorb, I was missing three more things. Maybe. I don’t know. I feel overwhelmed right now. Maybe it’s just because it’s one AM and I’m tired. But beyond that, another factor, was also because I’m not sure I ever connected as much to what become a critical second (third, fourth?) POV in this race to the end.

There are none so frightened, or so strange in their fear, as conquerors. They conjure phantoms endlessly, terrified that their victms will someday do back what was done to them.

And yet it’s clear this story, the whole shape of it, couldn’t exist without those things, so that’s why I’m likely to round this up. Because it is complex, it is unbelievable, it is lovely, it is heartbreaking, it is terrible.

[..] for a society built on exploitation, there is no greater threat than having no one left to oppress.

This might be one of the most true, most relevant, SFF stories I’ve ever read. Because so much of our world is built into this, even if it’s made up to be fantastical. And that’s equal parts frightening and hard to swallow. But it’s also so worth your time.

THE OBELISK GATE by N. K. Jemisin

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME. 

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring — madman, world-crusher, savior — has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.


Title : The Obelisk Gate
Author : 
Series : The Broken Earth (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 321
Genre :  fantasy / science fiction / dystopia
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : August 16, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I have no idea how to even attempt to review this book, this world, or where this series has gone upto this point, both in the storytelling or the characters. I feel like everything is so complex, so alien, all because of something so impossibly huge but also very simple, and that makes for a hard thing to explain.

There is such a thing as too much loss. Too much has been taken from you both — taken and taken and taken, until there’s nothing but hope, and you’ve given that up because it hurts too much.

I will say that this second installment was a whole lot less heartbreaking to read. The events in book one, the devastations, the tragedies, were a lot. This one is less of that but those events, and the impacts they’ve made, still do linger.

[..] just because you can’t see or understand a thing doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you.

The telling of this story, though? Much like in book one, where it did become obvious how things were woven together, this did something similar but.. not. And I did finally clue in to that, too, but I still loved it.

This author? Masterful.

I had to wait for my hold of book two to pop up, which is why it took a month for me to continue this series (trust me, I would’ve binged had I the option) but the good news is I also have book three available, so. I guess I’m still getting a semi-binge. And I cannot wait. Stopping to write this review is as much as I’m willing to delay at this point.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope.

North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them. 


Title : The Other Side of the Sky
Author : Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series : The Other Side of the Sky (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : YA fantasy / science fiction
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : September 8, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I don’t know why I’m surprised by how much I liked this, because I requested it solely as a result of the author names, without knowing (or caring) about what the plot would be, but oh wow did I really really like this. Also, yes, I went in to this totally unaware of the summary even after I was approved for the ARC, no one is surprised.

This is nothing like either of the authors’ work before as solo writers or partners and I actually found everything about the story, in general, to be so interesting and unique. There is a definite worlds divide feeling about THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY both in current day living and mythology as well as belief. We spend more time in one world than the other but knowing how this ended I’m sure we’ll get a deeper look at the opposite in book two and I can’t wait for that. But the world of the Below was so.. rich, so interesting, such a fascinating blend of faith and magic whereas the world Above we know is the complete opposite. Just like our protagonists.

I know there’s always a dialogue regarding YA feeling too YA and adults who read YA getting some criticism for picking up those books and then being disappointed by them because of their target audience. But my rebuttal is always that there are ways to write for an audience while still satisfying those outside of it. Or just writing so well that it trancends age groups. That’s what some authors can do well and others can’t and generally that’s where my criticisms come from. Sure, you can still write well but nonetheless have characters that read too young for you, or find themselves in situations that adult readers can be frustrated by. That’s still valid. I’m sure I’m guilty of it. But. These authors? I doubt I’ll ever have a problem with them and I’m so happy, after all these years, they are still writing YA. Though, hey, if they dropped an adult title? I’d be first in line.

But that tangent has nothing to do with this story or why you should read it. It doesn’t go into detail about the complexities of the world, the characters, how things connect or how they circumvent a path you think you’re on.. and surprise you with something else. This story does all that and more all whilst immersing you into a world I wasn’t really expecting to love so much.

If this book isn’t already on your radar, it absolutely should be.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemisin – double review!

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.


Title : The Fifth Season
Author : N. K. Jemisin
Series : The Broken Earth (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)/Paperback
Page Count : 378
Genre : fantasy / science fiction / dystopia
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : August 4, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5/ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

So, wow. I’m not sure I actually have anything to really say? Particularly that hasn’t already been said a hundred times.

Reading this book, this series, is incredibly overdue and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect beyond the apocalypse. And yeah that happens. A lot. And is happening again. I was totally drawn in the moment I started this, to the point I read almost 50% in one sitting, and then felt a moment of astonishment when I finally put something together. And considering the weirdness of this world, the complexity, which we learn about as we go but is so smart, I mean.. it made me feel pretty smart for having figured something out.

[..] she [pays] no attention to the world that is ending outside. Her world has already ended within her, and neither ending is for the first time.

This story is cleverness and heartbreak and not only weaves in very relevant (always relevant) discussions about systemic oppression and internalized racism but gives us powerful POVs from Black women, features queer characters all along the spectrum, and.. honestly, you need to read it. Sooner rather than later. Now, even.


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Complex but worth it
Themes that will resonate
Shockwaves of twists
Use the glossary

Having just finished this, I am aghast how cleverly woven this book was. This world, so different to ours in contemporary earth but so so similar in many ways, it felt strangely familiar. A cross of dystopian and sci-fi in genre, The Fifth Season introduced you to three main sets of characters. I am not going to fully elaborate on those three sets of characters but holy twist on a stick, I was blown away by how this came together.

Syenite and Alabaster were my favourite, ill-fitting characters. I felt like these two really taught me about the broken earth, orogeny (the ability to manipulate the earth, rock) and their standing in this caste system. Slavery, racism and slurs were on the menu (here’s where things really resonated) and it took time for me to see the social construct in full; it didn’t make a pretty picture at all.

Friends do not exist. The Fulcrum is not a school. Grits are not children. Orogenes are not people. Weapons have no need of friends.

The gifts of the orogenes and others were truly fascinating. How these ‘grits’ were trained was unpleasant and some of the reveals were pretty discomforting. This story was told over time and you never really could believe a time of settling because seasons and the earth were always around the corner to mess life up.

One of the beautiful things about this story was the found family that emerged in the parallel storylines. The Baster-Syen-Innon family was special. In a world of difficulty, you need hope.

I am left with SO MANY QUESTIONS and I know I’ll have to read on soon while the world building is still clear in my mind. I found this story easy to get into, so don’t be put off by it’s complexity, it is relatively easy to follow but concentration is needed – the glossary at the back is your friend. There are lots of triggers, so DM me if you want details or check other reviews to find them.

Thank you to Orbit Books & Tandem Collective for the review copy.

THE FIRST SISTER by Linden A. Lewis

Combining the social commentary of The Handmaid’s Tale with the white-knuckled thrills of Red Rising, this epic space opera follows a comfort woman as she claims her agency, a soldier questioning his allegiances, and a non-binary hero out to save the solar system.

First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and now a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.

A stunning and sweeping debut novel that explores the power of technology, colonization, race, and gender, The First Sister is perfect for fans of James S.A. Corey, Chuck Wendig, and Margaret Atwood.


Title : The First Sister
Author : Linden A. Lewis
Series : The First Sister #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE FIRST SISTER was an engrossing read, once I hit a third through, it was really hard to put down. Told from two different POVs, two sides of a war and two characters that couldn’t be more different, it took quite a time for these separate stories to converge but both narratives were gripping.

The worlds of Mars, Venus, Mercury, the asteroids and moons were complex in their settlements and evolving races but only in retrospect. This complexity was woven so carefully into the narrative without info-dumping. There was a drip of information when it was needed, so I was never jarred by getting to know history and contemporary life and their hierarchy.

I was probably most fascinated with the life of First Sister, her tenuous position on the ship, the new Captain and her self-discovery. First Sister was more than she first appeared, more than her silence, more than her role to serve and comfort. Her self-discovery and stretching of her own boundaries was riveting. Her relationship with Ren, slowly and naturally unfolded.

Lito, Hiro and the Asters were also great reading, as was life on the worlds. This book had a superb non-binary character that I loved, how they were written was just really beautiful in my non-own-voices opinion. I just had a niggling feeling about the later twist and I was right; I felt quite smug about that.

I couldn’t be more excited to see this is the start of a series and not a standalone. I need more from this story of worlds, more from these characters who have found a home in my heart and I want to see justice in this opressive wrangling of species and races.

THE FIRST SISTER is one heck of a debut, written with deep thought, ingenuity and natural flair. The research underpinning the writing felt solid. Linden A. Lewis has my attention and I will be ready and waiting for more.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS by Micaiah Johnson

Reasons Cara has died:

– The emperor of the wasteland wanted to make an example of her mother and started with her
– One of her mother’s boyfriends wanted to cover up what he did to her
– She was born addicted and her lungs didn’t develop
– She was left alone, and a stranger came along
– The runners came for a neighbour and she was in the way
– The runners came for her mother and she was in the way
– The runners came for her boyfriend and she was in the way
– The runners came for no one, serving nothing but chaos and fear, and she was what they found
– Her mother left her alone in a shed while she worked or got high and she fell asleep alone and hungry and forever

Reasons Cara has lived:

– She doesn’t know but there are 8.

The multiverse business is booming, but there’s just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.

Enter Cara. Of the 382 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but eight

But on this earth, she survived. Born in the wastelands where if a basic lack of resources didn’t kill you, violence would, Cara is happy to reap the benefits of a job and a safe place in the city to call home.

But when one of her eight remaining doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.


Title : The Space Between Worlds
Author : Micaiah Johnson
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Fresh, unique, complex and compelling….this book took some navigation of world building at first but it was so worth that bit of investment to be pulled into Cara(s) lives and travels. This sci-fi navigated the multiverse with a cast of characters all of which were shades of good and bad. I got completely invested in the characters of Cara, Jean, Nik Nik, Esther, Mister Cheeks and eventually Dell.

Earth Zero had an identifiable society in many ways in terms of priviledge and colour and these similarities were perpetuated across the multiverse. Cara had come from the rough, dirt-ridden Ashdowns but her ability to traverse the different worlds had given her a place in the elite society. It was unsurprising that she really didn’t have any power despite the fact they needed her and any allies she had weren’t completely trustworthy. It was an isolated life for Cara and her only real connections were family back in the Ashdowns.

I was so fascinated by life on Earth Zero with shades of longing for her on Earth 22. It didn’t take long for the story to serve up some twists and there were many further twists along the way. I found the second half so unputdownable that I romped to the end as fast as I could.

Don’t come into this read expecting to know the rules of the world, the reader has to flex with the story as it rolls unexpectedly out and quite honestly, that’s one of the best things about it. I can’t say I’ve read a story quite like this before and I do read quite a bit of sci-fi, so complete props to Micaiah Johnson for her ingenuity. I’ll definitely be reading anything she publishes from here on.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

HARROW THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir

She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. 

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?


Title : Harrow the Ninth
Author : Tamsyn Muir
Series : The Locked Tomb (book two)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 512
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/sci-fi
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

No one does it quite like Muir.

I could protect you, if you’d only ask me to.
I would rather have my tendons peeled from my body, one by one, and flossed to shreds over my broken bones. I would rather be flayed alive and wrapped in salt. I would rather have my own digestive acid dripped into my eyes.”
So what I’m hearing is.. maybe.

And by that I mean no one confuses me so utterly, for so long, in such devastating ways, only to give me exactly what I want, and then completely messes with my mind, all over again, by the final pages of the book.

What the fuck is going on?” <– what a mood

Like, what, even is that? Huh? Seriously? How dare.

You’re certain that [spoiler] tried to kill Harrow?
Yeah.”
But that doesn’t– why would she–?
Do not fucking ask me for information. I could not be more lost right now.”

In a scarily similar recreation of my reading experience with GIDEON THE NINTH, this book took me forever to get through because of slumps, work, life, the world, etc. Also because this book is over five hundred pages of who even fucking knows. Truly, I had no idea what was happening because while I understood the words I was reading, and there were familiar characters and faces, even some familiar-ish events.. nothing made sense. I was confounded, confused, and having a crazy good time anyway. This author has skills, I tell you. No one else could put me through this nonsense and have me asking for more.

Stay here.”
Get fucked. I absolutely did not become the eighth saint to serve the King Undying so [spoiler] could play hero for me.”
Why did you ascend to be Lyctor?
Ultimate power — and posters of my face.

All I can say is : don’t go in expecting to understand anything. Possibly ever. Because what little I thought I had eventually grasped by the end of book one, was just, poof, gone, by the start of this. And then what I thought I had pieced back together just before this concluded? Obliterated. Elle oh elle.

She wants the D. [..] The D stands for dead.

But speaking of that, I laughed, oh how I laughed. Some parts were so outrageous I couldn’t believe it. It was weird, it was whacky, it was wonderful. I want more. Because here we are again where I have been devastated with how this second book has concluded and I.. what.. but.. I..

I was not following all of this, because necromantic theory is a lot of hot bullshit even when I’m not busy having Complex Emotions.

Yeah, I need book three, like, yesterday.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DEAL WITH THE DEVIL by Kit Rocha

Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers in the vein of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha

The United States went belly up 45 years ago when our power grid was wiped out. Too few live in well-protected isolation while the rest of us scrape by on the margins. The only thing that matters is survival. By any means. At any cost.

Nina is an information broker with a mission: to bring hope to the darkest corners of Atlanta. She and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to help those in need. But altruism doesn’t pay the bills—raiding vaults and collecting sensitive data is where the real money is.

Knox is a bitter, battle-weary supersoldier who leads the Silver Devils, an elite strike squad that chose to go AWOL rather than slaughter innocents. Before the Devils leave town for good, they need a biochem hacker to stabilize the experimental implants that grant their superhuman abilities.

The problem? Their hacker’s been kidnapped. And the ransom for her return is Nina. Knox has the perfect bait for a perfect trap: a lost Library of Congress server. The data could set Nina and her team up for years…

If they live that long.


Title : Deal with the Devil
Author : Kit Rocha
Series : Mercenary Librarians (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : sci-fi/dystopian romance
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : July 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I have so many mixed feelings about this one! I mean, like, what a surprise, though, right? No one is shocked.

But seriously. This read was so strange for me. I was totally sucked in to this world and Rocha’s words, was consumed by it for the majority of a sunday afternoon, but nothing about the book had a wow factor, no character was particularly compelling or amazing, the plot itself didn’t feel too different from any other post-apocalyptic-esque-dystopian (obviously some elements differ but the familiarity is there) and I was still, somehow, almost tempted to give this four stars. Why? Because the writing was solid, it did consume me, and the ensemble cast and banter was just great (I’m such a sucker for this). 

But as I sat down to write this, as I considered the lack of wow, the as-of-right-now (but maybe not in future books considering the final chapter) rather misleading series name, and that overall lack of stand-out from the characters (don’t get me wrong, some were better than others, all were pretty good, but none really moved to me think “favourites shelf!!”)? I knew I couldn’t give this more than what I’m giving it.

This world is a mash-up of survivors after solar flares have basically reduced human contact to those within your local area. And in Atlanta, where this is set, that leaves society to be mostly enforced by a military outfit who uses enhancements on their soldiers, and also an organization who dabbles in genetics, and both are basically no good. The story features a group of ex-military operatives who are trying to survive the ticking time bomb that is their degrading implants and a trio of women who have been enhanced in various ways. Romance, secrets, betrayals, and surprises — naturally — ensue.

This story is full of action, full of sci-fi elements, gritty and dark but not bleak or hopeless. The romance wasn’t my favourite part but I didn’t hate it. I just liked the “we don’t trust each other, we know betrayal is likely” edge better. At least in the beginning. The reluctant friendships, the thawing of the tension, and all the banter, as the story went on, I liked even more. There was a lot of like.

Additionally, I liked that this wasn’t a story with just one, or two, POVs, and we’d get little tastes of each character, either to give us some backstory or some perspective. OR to whet our appetites for future books. Either way, I liked it.

I will definitely read on! 

Also, of note, after finishing my review and glancing through early feedback, apparently this is supposed to be set in the same world as the duo’s other series, though standing apart from it and also with less of an erotic categorization, so, that’s worth noting. I think I’ve read maybe two of the Beyond books so can’t really say that’s where I felt this was familiar. In all honesty it made me think of Kennedy’s Outlaws series but, again, without the erotica. Though, don’t get me wrong, there are some steamy scenes! That said, maybe in the wait for book two, I should go back and read more of this duo’s other works just so I can feel caught up on this universe. It probably won’t happen, though. I’m crap at follow through.

Ultimately, this is one that gets a cautious recommend from me. If you are into the genre, if you like lots of action, and a pretty stable attraction/romance thread between two opposing forces, you’ll definitely be into this. It is fairly long, though, clocking in at over four hundred pages, so if you’re more into wham bam thank you done, and don’t want this much plot with your sexy action times, maybe try the Kennedy series. Or, obviously, Rocha’s other books.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **