Monday, March 25, 2019

Review: Off Planet by Aileen Erin

Aunare Chronicles, Book One
by Aileen Erin
Ink Monster, LLC
Young Adult Science Fiction

In an all-too-plausible future where corporate conglomerates have left the world’s governments in shambles, anyone with means has left the polluted Earth for the promise of a better life on a SpaceTech owned colony among the stars.

Maité Martinez is the daughter of an Earther Latina and a powerful Aunare man, an alien race that SpaceTech sees as a threat to their dominion. When tensions turn violent, Maité finds herself trapped on Earth and forced into hiding.

For over ten years, Maité has stayed hidden, but every minute Maité stays on Earth is one closer to getting caught.

She’s lived on the streets. Gone hungry. And found a way to fight through it all. But one night, while waitressing in a greasy diner, a customer gets handsy with her. She reacts without thinking.

Covered in blood, Maité runs, but it’s not long before SpaceTech finds her…

Arrested and forced into dangerous work detail on a volcano planet, Maité waits for SpaceTech to make their move against the Aunare. She knows that if she can’t somehow find a way to stop them, there will be an interstellar war big enough to end all life in the universe.

There’s only one question: Can Maité prevent the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?


This is one of the most exciting reads I've seen this year, and I can't wait to dive into book two.

SpaceTech controls most things on the planet, and powerful as they are, they are at constant odds with the Aunare —an alien culture who leads Earth in many areas. SpaceTech has fought this by killing all Aunarians on the planet. Maite, the daughter of the leader of the Aunarian and part human, has been hiding on Earth ever since the first wave of genocide with her mother, living in constant fear of being discovered, while working at a diner and teaching martial arts in the evenings.  When a strange man appears at her apartment and claims to have been searching for her for thirteen years in cooperation with her father, she's not sure whether to be happy or flee. Just before the extraction can happen to meet with her father again, the head of SpaceTech tricks her into committing a so-called crime, and the horror begins.

From the very first page, this story grabbed me in. Maite's plight draws at the heartstrings, especially when it becomes clear that she's doing the best she can...not being stupid...and yet, manages to fight against the corruption and help in her own small way. She's a great fighter but not unbeatable. She walks a tight balance, and it's wonderful to see a character who isn't a complete fool and handles logic, mistakes and troubles with a pretty natural and believable feel.

There are many side characters, but each one holds their own purpose and personality. The author reveals enough backstory to make each character leave an impression while still holding many questions to be answered in the rest of the series. But this is the same as far as Maite is concerned. Her memory has been wiped for very good reasons, and this leaves a wonderful fog for lots of interesting twists and turns to come.

While the first chapters sink into Maite's life and start to give the impression that the story might be slow, the impression is completely incorrect. The tale builds and gains on pacing, not only exposing more and more layers of intrigue but also growing in character depth and tension—harsh, at times—with every passing page. This is even true on the romance end. There are so many hints at what might become a triangle or other interests, but that is not the main thrust of this story, and even this side remains very open for much more in the books to come.

The world building is very well done. The first chapters are very familiar and allow the reader to first gain a connection to Maite before heading off into the stronger science fiction elements. These are built with care and seep in mostly with logic and careful pacing. The one or two stumbles on explanations are easily forgiven and didn't bother the story in the slightest. Science fiction fans definitely get their thrill as the chapters deepen, and the tech and alien possibilities expand in exciting ways.

This is a great begin to a very promising science fiction series, and I'm looking forward to see where the adventure goes next.

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