Reviewed by Dan
AUTHOR: Shaun Young
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
LENGTH: 234 Pages
RELEASE DATE: June 30, 2016
Sixteen-year-old James Fisher lives on the distant planet of Castor where he toils for the ruling classes as an indentured servant. He’s a “Half-Adapt”—one of thousands like him who were shipped to Castor from Earth and biologically altered so they could breathe the planet’s atmosphere unaided. As Earth fades in his memory, James resigns himself to life under Castor’s strict social hierarchy. But then he meets his master’s nephew, Vidal Centa, and their strong attraction for each other begins to transcend Castor’s rigid class stratums.
Encouraged by his friend, Femi, to join the defiant Independence Society, which seeks to overthrow Castro’s punishing oligarchy, James faces a difficult choice. As his feelings for Vidal intensify each day, he must wrestle with loving the young man who represents everything the Society hates and fighting for justice. As the civil war threatens to erupt, James fears if he continues to fight he’ll destroy his relationship with Vidal, and perhaps the entire planet.
I picked this book off the available book list because the blurb caught my attention when I read it. The idea of a sixteen year old indentured in the distant future, when wars have caused people to use any method there was available to flee the Earth intrigued me.
The story read kind of like early American history and our own indentured servants. Although in this case the main character, a boy named James, had to be altered to breathe the air on the planet he came to. I’m talking new organs type alterations, where they chopped him open and removed some pretty vital things…like his heart…to make his body be able to breath the air and make him able to live and work on the surface of a planet that has failed attempts to terraform it. James will have to work for thirty years to pay it all back with the low wages he is credited with for the work that he does. Part way through the book we learn that he left Earth when he was seven! His parents signed the family up without asking him, (well…he was seven) to escape the wars on their home planet.
James has been on the planet of Castor for nine years. He was the only family member that actually made it to the planet, so he has been on his own ever since. He is working on a plantation, which read to me as similar in ways to a plantation in the pre-Civil War south in the US. James is a gardener’s assistant, working for a gardener who is a total drunk and who beats James up regularly. But there might be more to the gardener than he knows.
Things start to change for James when his best friend, Femi, invites him to a meeting of a seditious underground rebel group interested in overthrowing the wealthy masters. At the same time, the master of the plantation where James lives gets a visit from his nephew Vidal. Vidal and James are both looking for more than friendship, but can their blooming love survive some major upheavals and tragedies, say nothing about the fact that they are from wildly different social classes?
I liked this book. It was well written, and moved along at a good pace. The characters were well enough developed, but to be honest, my only real complaint is that I would have liked a little more detail on some things. OK, on a lot of things. Character development and overall world building could have used a little beefing up, in my opinion, and would have made the story line flow a little more smoothly.
Overall, I’d say the book was somewhere between good/average and liked it/above average on our Love Bytes scale, so I’m going to round up to the higher end of that spectrum. I think this book would be a good fit for the young adult market that it is target for.