This is one of those young adult science fiction books that hit the fairy tale retelling itch for me. So while this isn’t the most innovative book ever, it’s immensely fun.
Thirteen years ago, Maité and her mother escaped being killed with the rest of the alien Aunare on Earth when SpaceTech, the giant corporate conglomerate that runs Earth, decided to break their peace treaty. After years on the run, they’ve spent the past almost decade in Albuquerque, where they both work at a diner. In the first few weeks after everyone else was killed, Maité had a hard time not speaking Aunare or talking about things that would get them picked up, so she had her memory wiped, and while she’s saving her money to try to get her and her mother off Earth, she has no memory of her Aunare father or anything that happened before she was six, and long ago accepted that her father wasn’t coming for her. So when a mysterious man from SpaceTech shows up at their apartment, Maité’s suspicious – until her mother reveals that they used to be friends. Declan swears he can get them off Earth if they just stay low for a few more days. But Declan’s not the only person who’s found her, and she finds out that there are even worse places than Earth for an Aunare halfer to be. But her capture has set off a chain of events that may lead the galaxy into all-out war. Can Maité survive, plan her escape, and prevent a war?
“You don’t need to worry about Maité. She can more than take care of herself.”
“Just because she can take care of herself doesn’t mean that she should have to.”
Roan’s smile disappeared. “You think you know her better than I do?”
There’s a certain fairytale quality to the book that allows me to hand-wave some of the more unbelievable aspects of the story. Maité is literally a princess in hiding. She has to go through a lot of adversity – she goes through hell, almost literally, and definitely literal torture – to get that fairy tale happily ever after (or at least the chance of one). It’s told solely from Maité’s point of view, meaning that we’re just as confused as she is when people she’s supposed to know show back up in her life. Roan, her best friend in Albuquerque, was her sidekick and a great source of humor, though I didn’t like his tendency to overshare details about her life. Ahiga, the soldier assigned to protect her, was basically a knight. There was also hints of a love triangle between her, Declan (the double agent SpaceTech heir and childhood friend) and Lorne, an Aunare prince who remains mostly mysterious for most of the book. It’s obvious that some sort of “fated mates” situation is being set up, so the love triangle felt a bit extraneous.
“I was a di Aetes. I didn’t want or need anyone to save me. I would save myself.”
There were other bits I didn’t like, as well. Maité’s intensely private, and Declan (and her father) both breech her trust to share videos of her in pain. After everything she’d been through at that point, it felt like a betrayal. While I understood why the characters chose to do that, it soured me on both of them. I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have found some other way. There’s also a lot of political aspects that seemed a bit underdone, and Maité’s ability to find allies everywhere stretched my incredulity. But, again, fairytale, so I just went along and enjoyed the ride.
“I know who you are. You, Declan, and Lorne. The three of you together—you’re the ones that could change this. It might seem like a lot, but that’s what you were born into. I can’t change who you are, but I can help you as much as I’m able[.]”
Unfortunately (for her at least) unlike in a fairy tale, being rescued and reuniting with her family doesn’t mean the end to Maité’s story. There’s a lot of expectations on her, and while she may be safe for the moment, she’s still dealing with a lifetime of trauma of having to stay hidden in order to survive, not to mention the PTSD from Abaddon. All of this is, of course, setting up the next book in the series, which definitely spiked my curiosity.
Overall, this is a fun and quick young adult scifi, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series!