miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2016

OTW Challenge: SONG OF THE NAVIGATOR, by Astrid Amara

I've read this book in my Kindle

Published: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 5 stars

I was quite disappointed with last month’s Knight of a Trillion Stars, so for this, my second review for the Out of this World Challenge, I wanted something completely different. And here it is: a science fiction book with a dark tone, M/M romance and published in 2015. And my experience was quite the opposite, I really liked this book.

It’s quite angsty and dark, shit happens. I knew that from the beginning, just by reading the synopsis. Therefore, I was not very sure if I could cope with it. But I did. With flying colours.

The main character in this book is Tover Duke. And he’s the reason why this book worked so well. It’s one of those characters that you feel has to exist somewhere, he is so real!

He’s an improvisational navigator, a person who can move anything instantly across light-years of space using the powers of his mind. Only forty-two people in the whole universe can do what he does. So he’s very valuable for the corporation that has trained him and employs him, the Harmony Corporation. Such a highly qualified employee deserves the treatment of a rock star. He’s got fame and money, and lives in a very luxurious hotel. He has this crush with a mysterious engineer, Cruz Arcadio. They have sex sometimes when that man goes to the DK station Tover works in. The navigator cannot stop thinking about him.

Then comes his birthday and they give him a party. He goes, hoping to find Cruz there. And he does, but not in the way he expected. Cruz takes him hostage and uses him to get out of the station.

Then, Cruz gives Tover to these cruel smugglers who want to use him as a navigator. In the hands of these awful men, Tover suffers humiliation, pain and torture. He tries to do the right thing, but he’s got his limits. Whenever he remembers Cruz, he only feels hatred towards that man that has put him in this predicament. He remembers the times when he thought his lover could be something else, and that only adds to the depth of his betrayal.

There are scenes with ‘extreme violence and assault’ the warning says. Well, I wouldn’t say ‘extreme’ but yes, there’s graphic violence. Not sexual, I have to add. That’s precisely why I thought that perhaps I was not going to be able to enjoy this book. But once you accept that it has a lot of angst and pain, and that the personal redemption of both main characters implies a lot of suffering, you really can enjoy it.

I read it very quickly, I couldn’t put it down. I really liked Tover, and I understood his feelings, his actions. It’s amazing the way he grows up and changes, and discovers that his wonderful flamboyant life as a navigator star had its shadows. He’s a wonderful character and deserves his happy ending, even if it implies personal loses.

Cruz was a more difficult to accept. Unless you –at least- accept why he gives Tover to the pirates, you cannot enjoy this book. There’s not at lot of grovelling, but at least he recognizes it was his fault, he accepts that what he did was awful, and that Tover has every right to be angry and want to kill him.

Cruz does not change much from the beginning to the end. He’s an engineer, yes, but has also military training. He’s hard, but has always had a place in his heart for Tover and only wants an opportunity to be forgiven. Even as he knows that Tover belongs to a different world, and the possibility of a happy ending is quite small.

There are sexy scenes, wonderfully well written, and they add to the story!

And there were magic moments, I specially remember a moment when Tover, who loves birds, spends hours watching hornbills in a valley.

The ‘science-fiction’ part of the story was quite interesting. The world building was amazing. I really felt taken to another planet, and the author does this without lots of info dump. The universe is full of planets with different kind of humans. In order to colonize foreign planets and exploit them, the Harmony Corporation terraforms them. And the question that the book asks is how much suffering and destroying of native life forms is required in order to do that. Tover has never questioned colonizing other planets. But Cruz comes from a planet with a carbon dioxide atmosphere. If Harmony terraforms it, it would be the end for the human and native species from that planet.

Anyone with a conscience can easily relate to the problems of destroying the environment, the resources, and traditional way of living of other people just to support the privileged existence of a little group. In a way, Tover’s flamboyant and glamorous way of living reminded me of the Capitol in The Hunger Games –people whose wonderful richness was based on the submission of millions. The option of making Carida, Cruz’s planet, one in which everybody speak Spanish and have Spanish names, makes this book a very obvious political –or at least social- statement.

I really enjoyed this book. A lot. When I ended it, I thought this is a 4-star book for me. Why? If everything was so great? Well, it was because of a silly thing. Once and again someone spoke Spanish and it was, generally speaking, well written. But sometimes the sentences were grammatically wrong and of course he author did not use one single accent, and while I was reading, I wanted a red pen to put that diacritical mark here and there; that took me out of the story. These mistakes bugged me.

But as the days passed I forgot my red-pen problems and I only remembered how impressive the world-building was, and how great Tover was and how this was a book I really really enjoyed quite above my average experience. So the grade went from 4 to 5.

This is a book worth giving it a try. It’s my first read by Astrid Amara, but I have this feeling it will not be my last.

This book got a well-deserved grade A review in Dear Author.

A 5 stars review of this book can be found in Scattered Thougths and Rogue Words.
2015, Samhain

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