Space Travel – Christian Fiction – Politics + Complicated Allegiances – Smack in the Feels
Asrian Skies by Anne Wheeler is the first Indie published book I’ve reviewed here, so it’s a bit exciting! I’ve been searching for some Indie works I could really recommend and happily shout about from the rooftops so I’m glad I found it – in one of my author support Facebook groups, actually. Anne is a kind and engaging person who is very supportive of other indie authors and offers insightful input – and what do you know, she actually writes good!
But as for the book itself. I think my favorite part and the part I think was best done is the political intrigue. Not so much inter/trans-governmental, although that is definitely a factor, but more so the politics between individual characters. Who is on who’s side, why are they, how strong are those allegiances, who is lying and why – all are questions I found myself asking, which I really didn’t expect. I confess I often find myself rather jaded and not believing that a book can really surprise me anymore. I really enjoy trying to figure out what an author is going to do with a story before it happens (it makes me feel smart, what can I say? Although in some cases it’s a defense mechanism against hurt feelings from things like character death). I am happy when I succeed, but in this case I was also quite happy when Anne provided twists I wasn’t able to predict, or even at times left me at a loss for theories until the next bit of information fell into place. One particular character I was absolutely sure I knew what was going on with and what everything would lead to, but I turned out to be totally wrong (at least so far; things may very well twist again in the following books).
Now, as this is sci-fi, a recommendation wouldn’t be complete without looking at the tech and how the genre is handled here. The main character, Avery, is a pilot, and has been at an academy for three years when she is called back to her home planet to take a governing role because her uncle has abdicated. Thus she spends a fair amount more time pining for the opportunity to fly rather than actually doing it. But, I am happy to report that towards the end of this installment of the story we get a good amount of exposure to Anne’s world of space travel technology and (slight spoiler) Avery gets to fly a fighter in some desperate circumstances. This was very enjoyable as a Star-anything fan; I only wish it had been more drawn out. Other than that, most of the sci-fi stuff is restricted to reading off tablets, storing info on tiny devices, and transport via flying tubular busses.
As for the Christian Fiction element, it isn’t too intrusive. The characters tend to talk about their monotheistic faith in a Father who loves people individually and forgives when it would make sense, such as when facing impending death or loss of a loved one, or when visiting a temple. Some characters can get a little preachy, but it usually makes sense with who they are and who they’re talking to. The part that comes closest to be annoying is that the main character was raised in the faith but is now questioning without actually arriving at fully agnostic, which I just feel has been overused in Christian fiction as a whole. But, it never gets too grating, as the whole thing doesn’t come up enough to distract from the very enjoyable political goings on.
Then we have the Feels. I can’t get into it too much before the spoilers section, but I will say that this book gave me a whole lot of strong feelings, sad, happy, relieved, angry, all of that, which obviously means I strongly empathized with at least some of the characters (that is a small issue; aside from the main character and one other I had a hard time getting a handle on who people were beyond the surface and caring about them).
Now for the spoilers, which you will want to read if you don’t like character death or betrayal. For me, betrayal often hurts worse than if the betrayer had stayed good and just died, so I like to be warned about that. But in this story, I am happy to report, no one I actually cared about died. That’s not hard, because I only cared about maybe two people. The pain coming from death was on behalf of Avery and her feelings for those that die. So when Merrick was reported dead, I had been expecting it, but was very sad on Avery’s behalf. The flip-side is that I was thrilled on her behalf when it was revealed he was actually alive. Unfortunately, and this I was less prepared for, Dev’s death was not misreported, and was in fact at the hand of Feye, as he was the betrayer. By that point there had been so many surprises I had given up my attempts as predicting the plot. The thing is, most of the pain in this case was also on behalf of Avery, as we didn’t have a great deal of exposure to him as an individual, and also in retrospect, as it is revealed he was a good guy who went through a lot of bad stuff and tried to do the right thing. So it wasn’t as if my friend betrayed me and died, it was as if a great person died and I just heard about it secondhand, and thus I wasn’t too traumatized to write this recommendation.
Okay, that’s enough of that. In summary, it’s fun and fascinating sci-fi with political intrigue that will keep you guessing, not too intrusive Christian-ness and an easy-to-empathize-with main character that will make you feel feelings. If you’d like it, there’s a link to it on Amazon here or in the photo, and I’ll link Anne’s facebook page and Asrian Skies’ website.
May you be able to fly as often as you like, and may the road rise up to meet you.