A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: Enjoyable, action packed sci-fi, I loved the characters, but would not have minded knowing more about them.
Tuck’s a Gutter, one of a gang of violent orphans running level thirty-six of Hell’s End, the solar system’s outermost space station. There’s only one way out of this brotherhood of blood—grow up and be killed and eaten by other Gutters.
Tuck barely escapes his death sentence, only to fall prey to the powerful L’arisian family. Rescue from a L’arisian whorehouse never happens, but rescued he is, and by Gov soldiers no less. Alone among the enemy, Tuck trusts only one person—the man who risked everything to pluck him to safety.
Ivan’s a soldier. No more, no less. But the disquieting things he learns about the Government’s plans for the Gutter kid have him doing the one thing a soldier shouldn’t do. Think about doing what’s right instead of what he’s told. All for a guy he can’t get out of his head.
Getting involved in a rebellion that might get them killed is a problem. Falling in love? That’s a disaster in the making.
As you can see from the blurb, this book is set up in a harsh, futuristic world, where a lot of people are fighting to survive, corrupted government does awful things and rebels are trying to overthrow the government. The author dedicated the book to Asimov, Heinlane, and other scifi masters. I can see why. Now, was the world building and action of the same quality as in the books of those writers ? Not in my opinion, no, but as far as I am concerned there are VERY few scifi writers in the world who could do better job than Asimov and my other favorites of classic scifi. On its own this book was quite enjoyable though and I thought it added the romance in quite successfully. Scifi part of the book was not unique, but definitely intrigued me.
The story often moved very fast and I really liked it - I was glued to the pages of the book. As you can see from the blurb Tuck is a survivor, who is forced to fight for his life on the first pages and in fact we learned that while he was amongst the Gutters, his life was pretty much constant fight for survival. I really liked how the action packed storyline managed to incorporate his developing romance with Ivan. Obviously since the book is mostly fast paced, there was not much time for them to talk about feelings, but I really liked how when they realize that they are in love, even though they did not seem to previously talk about it, to me it made sense. The fast initial attraction to me made perfect sense - I bought that you could be attracted to the person who saved your life in a world where you see so little kindness from everybody.
I was so worried that the story would have one of my very big pet peeves – the characters having sex during the exact same moments while their lives are in instant danger - but thank goodness it did not happen, not once. The sex scenes were a perfect “lets catch a breath” between all the action moments to me and they felt hot and tender, and I was overall quite pleased with them. Apparently, it is possible to have sex at somebody’s home (or whatever counted for such) even in the middle of being involved in the very dangerous, life threatening things :).
I have to admit that I wish the book did not employ another pet peeve of mine – one of the leads is big and the other, you know, not tiny, but pretty small, but I guess one cannot have everything. Do not get me wrong, Tuck is a very strong character, but one day I will figure out why so many couples in mm fiction look like that. Why cannot they look more or less of similar stature, I do not know.
Note that this is an action piece, so do not expect the characters to engage in much introspection, but whatever glimpses we catch in their inner selves made sense to me and I liked it. I really wanted to know more about Ivan though – we do see his POV, and Tuck’s (the book is written from the third person POV), but I am still not sure who is he, besides being strong, loyal and smart and loving Tuck of course. Tuck is more interesting and developed character but I was hoping for more depth for him as well.
And I have to say how very much I loved the portrayal of women in this world. It is scifi, so why indeed not go all the way and I loved that the author did that. We see women who are leaders, soldiers, doctors, bodyguards, even the leaders of the crime families and yes, some of them just briefly mentioned, but I loved it that the author portrayed the world where apparently women can do whatever job they want – even if the government is so horrible. We see women as leaders of the rebels too, and of course we see nasty character or two amongst them as well – why not? But I loved that the women were visible in the world created in this novel, loved it.
The book is available from Samhain on May 21 and available for preorder now.