Title: Ethereal Lives
Author: Gem Stone
Series: Ethereals #1
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
What would you do if you were the last human left in the universe?
Hearing of Earth’s pending destruction, Ax and his men decide to grab a human and sell it to the highest bidder. But he doesn’t realise what he is getting when they pick Ariane. Believing humans to be simple, docile creatures, he gets a big shock when he finally meets one.
Ariane grew up tough. She knows how to defend herself, and has no plans to go to the auction block quietly. She intends to stop at every planet, see everything, and push every button she can along the way and she’s dragging Ax along for the ride.
But Ax has a secret, and when he gets taken prisoner Ariane must decide what she wants more. Her freedom or the man she loves.
Source: Review copy from the author
If you like your romantic sci-fi light and fun, then you will probably enjoy this romp of a tale. Ariane is not the kind of woman to take being kidnapped lying down and she makes it her mission to annoy her captors into submission. It’s a book that is definitely out to have fun and throws in a few interesting aliens and perilous moments along the way.
However, there were a few things that stopped me from enjoying it as much as I’d hoped.
Firstly, Ariane. At first her annoying habits were funny. I loved all the button pressing she does and the way she’s out to prove Ax and his crew completely wrong. Humans are far from simple, docile creatures and Ariane definitely succeeds in showing them that. Sadly, after a while, she just became annoying. Some of the decisions she makes later on in the book show a real lack of thought and her inability to believe in danger got on my nerves. There is hope for her, though, since she also seems to be the only one in this crew capable of forming a decent plan. I definitely appreciated her leadership qualities as the book progressed, because if any ship needs a competent leader, it’s this one.
Speaking of Ax and his crew there are times when the whole bunch of them are dumber than a box of rocks. I find it incredibly hard to believe that they’re supposed to be hiding a big secret, when they fly around the universe in the same old ship, using the same old names, but changing their appearance whenever they meet different species and also raising hell whenever they have the chance. They are the complete opposite of covert or discrete. It was the names that really got to me. Surely different species would have different naming conventions. I’d say that would be an immediate red flag when trying to blend in and make you really easy to track down.
I also felt that a certain original form was wildly underused, because surely, surely, if you’re in the middle of a fight, picking the form that won’t get you killed would be an excellent defence – even if just to move somewhere else.
Finally, I find it a really depressing thought that the entire universe might be trapped in a misogynistic patriarchal mindset that only deals in binary genders. If anyone would be open to non-binary or gender fluid ways I’d think it might be the Ethereals. Throw in that hint of homophobia and I find them rather disappointing – though the next book definitely looks set to challenge that last one (yay!).
So in all this was a mixed read for me. On the one hand it’s light and fun and easy to read, just as long as you don’t think about a lot of things too deeply or expect anything too out of the ordinary. On the other, all of the above. Overall, though, I liked it enough to want to read more – if only to see how things develop and whether Ariane eventually takes control of them all and teaches them the serious error of their narrow-minded ways.
Ethereal Lives is Out Now.
Visit Gem Stone for more details.