Wow! This is one strange book! I say that because I normally only read/review military science fiction and this has nothing to do with the military part. I read it based on a request from the author. I have read Mr. Rhine’s books before (“Supergiant”, “Void Contract”, “The K2 Virus”) and found them interesting, but not necessarily in the military sci-fi genre that I like. This story is just like those others, very, very interesting, but not my kind of book. Oh, it kept me interested, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t have finished it if it had not. So, let’s get into what this book is about.
We start off on Earth. A very different Earth than where we live to day. Humanity has colonized the Moon and a new and different society lives there which you’ll find out very soon. Earth is kind of a trash-dump for the elitist that inhabit the Moon colonies. They don’t often come to the planet because it is beneath those with Lunar citizenship to mingle with their lessers. Kira North is a Lunar citizen, but she has just lost her husband and gone bankrupt so she’s working as a documentarian (writer) hoping to do a story on Barron Reiger’s trip to Earth to procure resources for his second child. Barron Reiger is very wealthy and a snob. He is also paying Kira’s expenses for this trip to Earth, but as they have to delay their business for three days, he obviously wants Kira to physically pay him back by instructing her to rent a single room for the two of them. Kira has no intentions of doing that.
So, she sets out to film the wonders of the Antartica at Mimir Station. A winter storm is brewing but there may be some spectacular sights to see if she can just get out there in the wilderness. That was a mistake. Soon Kira finds herself trapped in a deep snow crevasse with no way out. Then she meets Jackdraw Speaks-with-Stones or just Jack. He’s going to be the main character of this book and you’ll be reading a lot about him. He rescues Kira and everything seems to be much better for her except she quickly learns that Jack is legally blind. He’s also an Empath! That frightens her more than him being blind. Contagious empathy had been an Alien Plague which had been rampant around three centuries ago. Yet, Jack was not a contagious empath. He could only receive not broadcast and couldn’t infect anyone. His talent was deep empathy. He couldn’t read minds, but he sense someone’s feeling and emotions like he was reading a book.
The story progresses where Kira meets Jack’s Mother, Laurel Stone, who has an interesting background. I won’t go into to it here, just be aware it’s peculiar. Kira and Laurel become very, very good friends. Kira finds out that Barron Reiger has left Earth and won’t be paying her way back to Luna since she didn’t film his resource purchasing as per contract. So Kira starts selling her video of her getting lost in the storm, her fall into the crevasse and subsequent rescue by Jack. She continues to video her experiences while living with Laurel and Jack as they show her around McMurdo Bay. She soon becomes an internet sensation and earns enough money to pay for her trip back to Luna. This is where she volunteers to take Jack back with her and promises to get him new eyes. Luna colony has the means to repair or replace Jack’s eyes and he can go to the same school as Kira’s daughter, Gemma.
Now this is where the real story starts. It becomes a story about young people tying to figure out how they fit in the Lunar society where how rich you are kind of determines your standing. While Jack is brilliant, he has to hide the fact that he’s an empath and that sometimes become difficult. If he’s around large groups of people without some kind of shielding on his head, he can become overwhelmed with their feelings and emotions. So he has to hide this talent the best he can. It gets kind of confusing sometimes because at this age, these young people are dealing with a lot of new emotions. While they are tying to get through school and earn a high enough standing to go into a prestigious college, they are also fighting off raging hormones! Sex comes up often in this story. Jack can tell when a girl is attracted to him. He can also tell how much she is attracted, but he has to be very careful since he is a non-Lunar citizen and could be in serious trouble if he had sex with a Lunar citizen. Yeah, this is kind of weird, but that’s what some of the story is about.
The rest of the book is how Jack manages to survive in a very difficult environment which sees him almost getting killed several times. He has to hide the fact that he’s an empath, but he’s found a home with Kira and Gemma, which he wants to protect. It’s just that he gets into so many strange situations that they’re safety is even threatened. You’ll read that Kira’s husband had been storing information about the various “big-wigs” of Luna and that info could be very embarrassing to some very rich people. Kira starts making money by releasing this information as exposés which brings her a larger audience, more money, but more danger to her and her family. Some of this is interesting reading, but most of it sounds like a soap opera.
Ok, this review has gone on long enough. Once you start reading this book, you’ll probably want to finish it since you’ll definitely want to know what happens to Jack in the end. Does he manage to survive on the Lunar colony or does he get thrown out an airlock without a space suit? Either can happen. He’s an empathy whether contagious or not and Lunar colonist are not going to like that. Can he make it to the prestigious university every other kid on Luna aspires to or is there something else in his future? Read to find out.
This seems to be the start of a series. I don’t see a second book listed for this series so I don’t know if the author has one written. I don’t know if I’ll read it even if he does because I read military science fiction and this book just isn’t in that genre, no where near it.