I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
When Julian’s mentor urges him to accept an invitation to study the dying sand of Valeria, all he sees is another assignment. Valeria’s ban on romantic and sexual unions seems a trivial price to pay in the name of scientific progress; even the constant supervision by the Sisters, the advanced A.I. that runs Valeria, seems a negligible point.
When the situation proves to be more difficult than anticipated, Julian finds a lifeline in Saidin, a warm, emotional individual who has somehow survived a world of passive expression and uniformity. As they work together to try and solve Valeria’s degradation problem, they learn the Sisters had a much more sinister reason for inviting Julian to Valeria, and the two of them may not be able to save themselves, let alone an entire planet…
I picked this one up because it sounded interesting, and I already had some success with Less Than Three Press.
This is the saddest loneliest book I’ve read all year. It is also well written, lyrical, and deeply introspective. We spend a great deal of time in Julien’s head, and while I can’t say I precisely enjoyed it as there was too much misery in the events, but I found myself deeply empathizing with this character. Saidin was much more of a cipher, as we are never in his head and only learn of him from Julien’s perceptions, but he provided an appropriate foil.
As for the plot itself? Wowzers, I was totally not expecting that. A complete surprise. At times the themes and morals were presnted a bit heavily handed. But overall it was an interesting and lovely melancholy love story. And the ending was quite positive and the culmination of dramatic character growth.
I liked it much better than the first chapter lead me to believe I would. The story is getting 3.5 stars from me and a solid recommendation to anyone (but particularly fans of m/m) who likes a good sad love story where redemption is found in the end.
On a related note, if the two Less Than Three Press books I’ve read are any indicate of quality, this is a publisher I will continue to watch. While I can enjoy stories that may not be so well edited, it is much easier if they are.