I'm lazy about reviewing but industrious about reading :]
This book is well written but the major issue I take with it is the management of expectations. Writing is nicely done. But the tone of the story is sort of disorienting and if you're walking into this book expecting light and fluffy space romance DO NOT EVEN BOTHER. And now that I've perused some other reviews of this book I see that I did not suffer alone in my expectations about what kind of book I was getting into. As I commented while reading this- the cover art- the female model alone looks more Mass Effect/Shepard-ish vs the peasant village girl Linnea is. Repeatedly there are descriptions of how coarse her clothing is and how self conscious she feels vs the Pilot Masters she is surrounded by on Nexus. I know that often a book cover is misleading- sometimes fans will pitch a fit because the cover model has the wrong kind of hair, or the models are wearing clothing that doesn't work with the story or something but trust me, this cover does this story NO justice. It's a disservice to the work unfortunately.
I felt disoriented during this entire read because my expectations were not in line with what happened in the story at all. This is a grim dystopia. Sure there are planets within the "Hidden Worlds" that are living the high life, they have plenty of commerce, population and a hearty contract with the ruling Pilot Masters (that determine where wealth happens anyway). But when anyone can expect their planet to die a horrible zombie grey goo death without any protection or prevention it's a harsh world is it not? When your two main characters, the heroine and the hero are struggling through torture, rapes, absolute and complete subjugation, seriously authoritative governments and familial arrangements- it is even surprising that this book provides an HFN. I was amazed at that! I had a tough time finishing, I have a tough time when the protagonist is suffering and suffering and suffering and I do not see the possible light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like screaming to the author GIVE THEM A BREAK FFS!
I want to give this a higher rating because the writing has some truly beautiful moments but overall I have a hard time liking and enjoying an absolutely oppressive depressing book. I do. This is just part of my enjoyment when I read- I don't want to walk away depressed. I can handle violence, serious topics, wars, but there are different ways to handle tone, consequence and the readers ability to hope. I think so at least. I can say that within this universe, The Hidden Worlds universe, everything pretty much makes sense according to its internal logic and proceeds as it would and should given the circumstances. That doesn't make it anymore fun for me to read though :.
Some beautiful writing, I enjoyed that, far too dystopian and dark for me and it barely eked out an HFN. The cover should not look like pulpy fiction space opera action funz because it simply aint.