The Last Sky

(Atrophy #1)

by Jess Anastasi

3.5 stars, actually.

The end notes say this book was written over 10 years ago….and it shows a bit. It has a freshmen feel to it, and a somewhat underdeveloped sense of backstory, world, and science that comes through in odd parts of the dialogue.

There’s also three main POVs: the main hero & heroine and then the heroine’s captain brother Rian about halfway through. Usually a third POV signals a switch to a new romance, but not really in this case. It went on far too long to be a set up for the next book (and the next book doesn’t seem to focus on Rian and the priestess anyway) and no priestess POV at all to signal another main romance. The main romance suffered a bit, as a result I believe.

Zahli is crew and sister of Captain Rian– former military for the ruling space empire who was a hero for doing some unspecified thing and now runs a cargo delivery service as he searches the galaxy for the Reider- mysterious folk who had something to do with his transformation into a broody guy threatening violence all the time.

When their ship touches down on a prison planet, they pick up a stowaway, Tannin, who was framed and imprisoned. Zahli and Tannin become enamored. But they can’t do anything about it because angry Rian has a “no fraternization” rule (sigh over weirdly imposed plot device).

So they tip toe around each other with fleeting touches and sighing looks and have lots of inner/outer dialogue about how Rian was going to rip limbs off or shoot Tannin. This is the delaying tactic…until suddenly it isn’t. Then they kiss in public places and don’t lock doors, etc. so their prior worry seems….underwhelming/silly.

The story focuses more on Tannin’s hacking powers making him useful to Rian more than Tannin and Zahli finding understanding, love or acceptance in each other. In romance, I’m looking for the latter. And the science/world details weren’t quite as interesting to me to make up for the lack.

Truthfully, the name “Reider” was so odd to me, and never explained, that I just couldn’t take it seriously each time it came up in the story, so part of Rian’s angst was diluted.

And sadly, the steamy bits were not to my taste, either. There was so much potential for Tannin to have angst and various desires born of his imprisonment, but all the steam was overwhelming passion that had them bypassing fun kissing stuff and got them down to business way too fast, in my opinion.

So not really my cup of tea. I can see how later series might be better if this author focused enough on the main relationship and gussied up the world-building, but this isn’t enough to tempt me to follow the rest of the crew.