Book Review by Jude: Ghosts & Ashes by F.T. Lukens

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Three months have passed since the events of The Star Host, and Ren is living aboard the Star Stream under the watchful eyes of the Phoenix Corps. Plagued by vivid nightmares that ravage the ship in his sleep, he struggles to prove he isn’t a threat and fears he has traded one captor for another. His relationship with Asher, whose efforts to balance his personal loyalty to Ren with his professional duties to the Corps are failing, fractures.

Adrift without an anchor, Ren must return to his home planet of Erden if he has any chance of reversing his dangerous descent into madness. There, he hopes search for his missing brother and salvage his relationship with Asher. What he finds is knowledge that puts everyone’s allegiance to the test.

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5 Stars

Trying to put words to my level of excitement when this book came out is nearly impossible.

When I picked up the the first book in the Broken Moon series (The Star Host), I was a little skeptical about if I would enjoy it. I had no idea I would be so enthralled. Lukens has a special gift: her world building is so vivid it’s like you’re there. It was almost cinematic, in that I could picture everything that was happening. It’s not flowery prose: it’s direct and rich and clear. I loved that book enough that I have it on Kindle and hard copy. I’ve read it multiple times.

Circling back: I cannot express my level of anticipation and excitement for the second installment of this series.

Once again, Lukens did not disappoint. This book carries a kind of hardship and angst that is different from the first; which is necessary. I love Asher and Ren, I root for them so hard. But they are young, and they are being pulled in many very difficult directions in extremely difficult circumstances. Their miscommunication and frustrations felt so realistic to me. I’m a sucker for realistic, difficult, honest relationship issues. And without them, I feel like the difficulties they face, plot-wise, would have been cheapened. I have an irritation with YA books in which characters face this sort of dystopian plot and maintain a perfect relationship throughout. I certainly wasn’t that kind of 19 year old.

I love that I was taken by surprise by a plot twist at the end: it satisfied a deep worry I had and explained so much about it. The moments of sweetness and connection between Asher and Ren helped me hold on to hope for them throughout: through everything, they keep coming back together. The mystery of Ren’s brother…I am dying for that resolution. I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to ruin the plot.

I will say that there were many moments when I wanted to shake Ren or Asher because I could see how their decisions were colored by wrong information, by stubborness, by lack of self awareness. I felt so much for Asher, being put in a position between his position in the Phoenix Corps and with his commitment to Ren; for how difficult it was for him to see the changes Ren was going through at the start of the book, and the things he did to try to help that seemed, often, not helpful. Since the story is only told from Ren’s POV, we get an imperfect character voice. We live through Ren’s understanding of situations, which are not always accurate. As the reader, we have to wait through and be patient so we can see how Asher’s choices unfold. Lukens pulls this type of writing (single POV) very well.

The end of this book will absolutely put you on the edge of your seat. There has to be a word for a next level anticipation beyond where I was previously.

Genre: Sci-Fi Genre: Young Adult Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Interlude Press Review

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Instagram: /judemsierra/

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