This was a surprise book mail that I had heard good things about, so I was excited to start!
So thanks to the author as well as Orbit for the review copy!
When a young man’s planet is destroyed, he sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge across the galaxy in Nophek Gloss, the first book in this epic space opera trilogy by debut author Essa Hansen, for fans of Revenger and Children of Time.
Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans.
He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.
This is the story of Caiden, who is a 14-year-old mechanic who lives with his family on what is essentially a slave planet. One day, the entire population of his settlement is suddenly evacuated to another planet where they are inexplicably dumped upon a hungry herd of nophek. A nophek is a rare, aggressive, and at least somewhat intelligent animal that is only able to live in certain universes with specific conditions. They have a gland in their brain that produces a material known as gloss, which is very, very valuable, and used as a type of fuel.
Caiden survives this genocide and flees the planet on a very interesting ship that he found, running into a ragtag crew and joining them on their adventures. He then figures out just how huge and crazy the multiverse is. But, most of all Caiden wants revenge on the slavers that killed everything he loved in the multiverse. And he will do whatever it takes to get that revenge.
It admittedly took me a while to fully get into this one. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, in fact it was quite interesting and full of all kinds of really well thought out ideas. The first half just moved slower for me than has been usual with me as of late. The second half though, well I read the second half of this one in one sitting. So, once I got there, I got there.
Caiden is an interesting character that I didn’t love in the first half, but I did in the second. He starts this book out as a 14-year-old who hasn’t ever lived outside of his own basic planet. He’s understandable angry and hurt, and he acts just as an angry and hurt 14-year-old from a sheltered nowhere planet would. But this is the multiverse and it is full of all kinds of technology. Like acceleration, which can put a few more years of aging on you in a few hours. The latter half of this one sees Caiden a few years older, and shows him becoming a few years wiser, which I really enjoyed. Nothing like seeing that annoying teenager actually grow into someone far less annoying, amirite?
This book also has some fantastic supporting characters. My favorite was En, who is a very augmented human. Basically, En can be whichever gender feels right at that point in time, and will let you know which pronouns to use. En is flirty and often snarky, and definitely my favorite character in this one. There is also Panca, who is the engineer and a very sensitive and lovely character.
Then there is Threi. He’s hard to describe. He’s not… exactly the antagonist. He’s maybe sometimes the antagonist. He’s quite a well put together character that was presented in a way that made me want both the best and the worst for him within like two sentences of each other.
So, all told, I really liked this one. It had a slow start for me, but it ended with a bang that left me immediately wanting the next part in the story. I had 4/5 stars of a good time with Nophek Gloss, and while the bulk of those stars were for the latter half, the first half is, in hindsight, slow but so, so necessary. This is a wonderfully crafted and very unique story. I can’t wait for more.