Margaret Fortune's debut is fabulous fun! The first in the Spectre War series (currently projected to be 5 books, I believe) begins as one thing and morphs into a completely different kind of story. But what kind is something I'm not going to give away. That said, I'm going to attempt to be somewhat vague in my review. So here goes:
Lia Johansen is a refugee with a secret. One of hundreds of POWs recently released as part of negotiations over a habitable planet called New Earth, Lia and her fellow prisoners are given temporary asylum on New Sol Station. But Lia isn't there for asylum. Lia isn't Lia at all. She's a walking bomb whose clock is counting down swiftly.
Until it's not. Ready to go nova and take the entire station with her, Lia is given a reprieve when she proves to be a dud. But the stay is only temporary and she has no idea how long it will take for the final minutes of her clock to count down.
Her mission is complicated by two factors beyond the bomb's fickleness: one, she has no memory of her mission. Two, the memories she does have are the real Lia's. And when one of Lia's friends turns out to be living on New Sol, going nova begins to seem like a bad idea.
We meet Lia as her transport is arriving at New Sol. Lia, the real Lia, was a citizen of Aurora Colony, one of many terraformed colonies throughout the expanse. When the colony fell, she and her family were taken to the Tiersten Internment Colony, as prisoners of the Tellurian Alliance, one of two governing factions that controls (and fights over) space.
See the Tellurians and the Celestians have been fighting for ages over everything. And while new colonies are being terraformed for human habitation, the discovery of a seemingly Earth-like planet perfect for habitation as is, is the center of the current conflict between the two groups. Unfortunately, Lia and the other refugees were caught at the center of the conflict until just recently. A tenuous treaty has been negotiated, and the POWs have been released.
But things aren't quite hunky dory, as evidenced by the fact that this Lia, our narrator Lia, is carrying a bomb meant to destroy New Sol!
Unfortunately, whatever plan Lia is part of has gone massively awry. And with no knowledge of what the plan actually is, Lia isn't sure she wants to continue carrying it out. Especially when she's taken under the wing of Lia's old friend from Aurora, Michael.
As her time on New Sol stretches out, Lia becomes close to Michael, even convincing herself that she can live some sort of life with an actual future.
Lia is an unreliable narrator in that she doesn't know her own story. Her internal battle between what she thinks is her purpose and what she actually wants is one that propels the story from start to finish and each new piece of information she discovers about herself and the world she lives in proves to complicate things further for her.
As her clock ticks down, the pacing of the story increases, leaving the reader wondering what fate Lia will choose and how this will affect the world we've come to know.
Nova is an excellent start to a series. It's the kind of book that has huge cross over potential - a teen narrator in an adult SF tale that definitely appeals to both audiences. But there's a massive and fabulous twist beyond all of that that really makes Nova fantastic.
Nova has been out in paperback for some time, but next month marks the release of the second book in the series, Archangel. So now's the perfect opportunity to catch up! Be sure to check back here next month as I'll be giving away a copy of Archangel here on the blog.