Review: Scardust

cover-scardustTitle: Scardust
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Series: – –
Genre: M/M Sci-Fi
Length: Novel
Available: Feb 8th

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Dead Rock, Texas, 2037

Raleigh Williams made a promise to his brother before he died, that he’d scatter his ashes on Mars. Desperate to leave a life of bad memories behind and start over in the Martian colony, Raleigh fully intends to keep that promise. But his plans are thwarted when a meteor near-misses him in the desert, and Raleigh finds in its crater not debris or even a spacecraft, but a man covered in swirling scars and with no memory of who he is. At least he looks like a man—a man Raleigh can’t seem to keep his eyes off of—but whenever they touch it ignites a memory swap between them.

Raleigh agrees to help Meteor Man piece together his life through their cosmic connection. But the memory share goes both ways, and Raleigh becomes inexplicably entangled with a guy who is everything he needs—everything good that Raleigh is not—but might not even be human. As their minds and worlds collide, reality unravels and Raleigh must face a painful truth, one that could shatter his dreams of finding love, reaching Mars, and fulfilling his brother’s last wish.


Source: ARC from Entangled: Embrace via NetGalley

This book is kind of hard to talk about without giving things away. I actually find it tricky to talk about at all, because it wasn’t quite what I expected and I’m still not sure what I think about it. It is well enough written and the overall plot is clever, but for the most part this is a story set in small town Texas, where terrible things have happened to Raleigh and his life is pretty much hopeless. It’s kind of dark and dreary, and even when things happen with him and Crow it’s all still tinged with hopelessness.

Alternating between Raleigh and Crow (Meteor Man) in first person perspective, you definitely get a chance to get inside both characters’ heads. And yet, I never really connected to either of them. Raleigh is an interesting character, but years of abuse – from others as well as himself – have worn him down. He’s not completely broken, but he is definitely battered, and all he wants is to go to Mars. That’s really all there is to Raleigh, his feelings of shame towards his background and his desperation to leave. Yet he’s mostly treading water, trapped in his hopeless life.

Then along comes Crow, the stranger with no memory of who he is or where he’s from. He’s a powerful mystery and an attraction Raleigh struggles to resist. I did like the way the relationship grows between them, but somehow it never quite drew me in the way I had hoped. Because Crow gets to see all the bad, defining moments of Raleigh’s life, their closeness is a touch artificial, leaving only their physical attraction behind. Which I would have expected to have been more of an issue for Raleigh, considering his past.

The story is clever, but it does take its time to get anywhere. The vast majority takes place in Dead Rock, and without the Mars mentions and Crow’s mystery, it could have been a contemporary tale. The sci-fi elements do ramp up towards the end, but though I wanted to know what happened, I wasn’t that bothered about either Raleigh or Crow. As for the last 20% or so, while I enjoyed the extra sci-fi stuff, everything else felt far too rushed.

Which all leaves me feeling torn. It’s a good story, quite well told, but prepare for dark and bleak at times, with bullying, domestic and sexual abuse all playing a part. The characters are interesting, and once the tale finally gets moving it is compelling, with an intriguing mystery. If you’re looking for a solid sci-fi novel about space colonisation, you won’t find it here. If you prefer your sci-fi to take place in a world that really isn’t all that different to our current one, then this might be more your thing. Overall I’m glad I read the whole thing, but I neither loved nor hated it.


Scardust is out February 8th!
Visit Suzanne van Rooyen for more details.

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