Note: I decided to review each of the books separately, to give them all a bit of attention! This series is now available as an e-set which is a great bargain!
Book One: The Star Host
The Official Description: Ren grew up listening to his mother tell stories about the Star Hosts – a mythical group of people possessed by the power of the stars. The stories were the most exciting part of Ren’s life, and he often dreamed about leaving his backwater planet and finding his place among the neighboring drifts. When Ren is captured by soldiers and taken from his home, his dream slips further out of his grasp. Now a slave of a despotic Baron, Ren must remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape. It’s a challenge since the general of the Baron’s army is convinced Ren is something out of one of his mother’s stories.
Ren finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the Phoenix Corps, Asher is mysterious, charming, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him as his sudden technopathic ability threatens to consume him. Ren doesn’t mean to become attached, but after a daring escape, a trek across the planet, and an eventful ride on a merchant ship, Asher is the only thing that reminds Ren of home. Together, they must warn the drifts of the Baron’s plans, master Ren’s growing power, and try to save their friends while navigating the growing attraction between them.
Just the facts: YA adventure, sci-fi, queer content
A true space epic with a great crew. Reminiscent of Reynolds’ Revelation Space. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: I have been lucky enough to be granted an e-copy of the electronic box set of this series. It’s a great idea to reissue things as an ebook series because it’s perfect for taking along on vacation! I love getting stuck into a new series and enjoying it.
The first book in this series certainly grabbed my attention. When the book begins Ren is living a pretty idealistic sounding life with his family on a planet that involves a lot of hard work. But it sounds like a good life… except for the fact there is an impending threat. The Baron’s men come looking for young people to put into slavery and this day… Ren isn’t lucky enough to escape.
Right out of the gates it becomes clear that Ren is a great guy. He basically sacrifices himself to give his little brother a chance to escape the “recruiters” and immediately falls into the role of leader. He tries to come up with a plan to escape and realizes early on that he’s going to have to be clever about it.
What Ren has never realized on his dusty little world, is that he’s actually got a special power that allows him to control Tech. Why didn’t he realize? Well, because he was never really around the fancy text that comes from other places. I enjoyed the way that Lukens eased Ren into the realization that he was different. Sure, he’d listened to the tales his mother told him of mythical people with the power of stars… but he’d never thought it was actually real.
Once he’s captive in an iron cell Ren meets Asher. Asher is in the Phoenix Corps but he’s being held captive because his mother is powerful. It’s all politics and plays for power in the Baron’s world. As Ren becomes aware of the scope of the Baron’s takeover, he and Ash ally with one another and begin to come up with a plan to escape – and take as many prisoners as they can with them.
There are some great things going on in this novel. First of all, Ren discovers his control over technology slowly and it’s a lovely reveal. As his power grows, he comes face to face with the fact that his power can overwhelm him to the point of no-return – that’s IF he doesn’t have some sort of anchor. Maybe… that anchor can be a person.
The power of “stars” and the way that people could be lost in it as they merge with tech reminded me of the work of Allistair Reynolds in his Revelation Space Series. I would go so far as to say this is kind of a YA series of the same ilk. This is a great series for YA readers who may be on the cusp of moving toward “adult” sci-fi fiction. The thing is, this is a great book all on its own… I don’t really mind the label of YA as this book is about teenaged characters but I feel as though it’s a good read for anyone interested in the genre. Don’t skip this one just because you don’t read YA is all I’m saying.
As always there’s a bit of Greek mythology wrapped up into this story. Lukens seems to have an interest in myths and legends… just check out some of their other work. I enjoy the connections and appreciate the research!
There’s a lot of loss in the novel. People lose their freedom, their homes, and their control. It’s not an in-your-face kind of theme, but Lukens does a great job of weaving the emotional repercussions of loss throughout the story.
One of my favorite things about this book is the wonderful, perfectly paced friendship between Ren and Asher which blossoms into something “more” than they don’t want to define. Their sexuality takes a backseat to the emotional connection they feel for one another and I really enjoyed that. I could relate to the ease with which Ren could be attracted to anyone regardless of their gender. It was a pleasure to read this as something that Ren simply… did. It isn’t a big deal, it isn’t the entire plot… it just is.
Great opening book to a series. Lukens certainly wraps up the first book in a way that would be satisfying if one didn’t want to keep reading, but there are more than enough roads remained unexplored!
Book Two: Ghosts & Ashes
The Official Description 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 to search for his missing brother and salvage his relationship with Asher. What he finds is knowledge that puts everyone’s allegiance to the test.
My thoughts bit: Months in space have left Ren a wreck. He’s suffering from anxiety attacks as he fights “the call of the ship”, nightmares and he is exhausted. He’s losing control of his “star” and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the crew he now calls family. In particular, Ash.
Now that Asher is “supervising” Ren… in other words, keeping an eye on him, the tension between them seems almost insurmountable. There have been some serious incidents on the ship… times when Ren has lost control of himself during a nightmare and nearly killed everyone on board. It’s all out-of-hand and Ash takes steps towards trying to make things better.
Ren and Jakob want to go home. They have heard that their village was destroyed, but the need to know the truth is overwhelming for them. A trip to their planet isn’t easy to accomplish but … after yet another sacrifice by one of them… the trip happens. What Ren and Jakob find, isn’t what they expected.
There’s a lot revealed in this book about Ren’s past and the origin of his powers. For obvious reasons, I’m not going into that in my review. I was a little bewildered by Ren’s reaction to finding out some of his past – by that, I mean that he didn’t act the way that I expected him to. I suppose that I had imagined he had been without knowledge for a long time and would welcome it when he had the opportunity! I know I’m being very secretive, but I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone.
This book continues to really be about caring for found family. The supporting characters are great and continue to demonstrate their commitment to one another. These books are a real exploration of found family and what sacrifices may be necessary to keep loved ones safe.
This installment of the series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so don’t read the next review if you don’t want me to give away anything!
Book Three: Zenith Dream
The Official Description: When Ren wakes from his life-threatening injury on the Star Stream, he learns that Asher has left with the Phoenix Corps and that the Corps believes Ren to be dead. Despite the opportunity to disappear, Ren is determined to fix his mistakes. He convinces the crew to join him for one last mission—find Asher, free Liam, and escape from the Corps’ reach. But a war is brewing between two formidable armies, and, despite his wish to flee, Ren is drawn into the conflict. With his friends by his side, Ren must make a choice, and it will affect the future of his found family and the cluster forever.
My thoughts bit:
Poor Ren has really been through it in this series. The previous book ended in a bit of a cliffhanger… with Ren being shot with an antique weapon! If you can control technology then the answer to getting rid of you is to shoot you with an old fashioned gun! When Ren awakens in this book, he’s a bit of a mess. He’s injured and exhausted…and perhaps, worse than anything else, he has lost Asher.
There’s no doubt in Ren’s mind that he needs to save Asher and finally say all the things he’s kept bottled inside. He sets off on a mission to save Asher… then his brother Liam! Yes! Liam! the brother that Ren lost in the first book has reappeared and needs some help.
I love this little family crew and I’m actually quite sad that I’ve finished this series. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Asher and Ren. I thought it was great that they didn’t just leap into a relationship right off the bat. They seemed to have their feet firmly planted on the ground… even when things were completely falling apart around them. Their relationship was beautiful and I loved that its solid base was friendship from the beginning.
Darby is a new supporting character in this book and she is great. She’s fiercely independent, clever and snarky. I enjoyed all her scenes and she seemed to bring out a lightness in Ren sometimes which was nice to see.
The author did a great job of rounding up all the loose ends in this installment of the series. You’ll be satisfied if you’ve read the entire thing…although, like me, you might be a little bit saddened that your time in this world has ended.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this series to anyone who enjoys science fiction. It’s also a great YA voice in the genre!
If you read the warnings below – the series plot will be spoiled! Continue at your own peril!
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (OVERALL SPOILERS) enslavement of character, kidnapping, electric shock weapons, execution of character (later proven false), violence, loss of consciousness, long incarceration, abandonment, death of supporting character, gunshot wound, description of mass graves, injuries, imprisonment, mind control.
I received an ARC of the Broken Moon series by F.T. Lukens from Interlude Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.