By Heather A.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.
Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.
But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Quarantine brain has me feeling some type of way. I finished this book weeks ago and I’ve only now managed to write anything resembling a review. If there’s anything you can glean from this post, it’s that this book is an amazing escape from every day life under this pandemic. It’s got everything: a Finn/Poe fanfic vibe, friends to lovers trope, action, adventure, and excellent plot twits.
The parts of this book I particularly enjoyed were the action sequences. Almost immediately our heroes are in a space battle against their own classmates. It only gets more intense from there. The action sequences pulled this book along, from the time Ettian rescues Gal, to when they land on a remote planet and have to escape gangs with their new companion, Wen, and when they join rebels in a plan to get back home. It was all SO FUN. As much as these characters are risking their lives at every step, there’s humor and fun behind a lot of their decisions. Personally, I’m a fan of this for any sci-fi book; that it allows for moments of joy and doesn’t get bogged down in technical details.
Even though this book is described as Finn/Poe fanfic, the biggest distinction is that the audience for this book is clearly Young Adult. They only kiss, okay! It’s pretty tame. I guess I should have anticipated this because they essentially go to a military high school (aka are high school aged), but I was expecting more action to Ettian and Gal’s relationship. That’s not to say there wasn’t excellent moments of tension (when they are repainting the plane!), it’s just that it’s all kind of watered down.
The person I trusted least in the book was Wen Iffan. She’s a street urchin on the planet of rebels where Ettian and Gal escape, who Ettian somehow trusts implicitly even though they barely know each other. It kind of caught me off guard how much he relied on her. If he saw something of himself in her, then wouldn’t he know not to trust her? (And this could go both ways, why does she stick around with these two?) To be fair, I think she is a cool character on her own, and does redeem herself at the end. I’m excited to see where that goes in the series.
Speaking of which, what a twist ending! Not what I expected! As a reader, I always appreciate when we’re led down a certain path, but it’s crushed at the end by something we didn’t see coming.
This series is one to watch. It’s a good escape, fun, and definitely keeps you on your toes. I would definitely read other books by this author, too.