SECRETS STAND IN THEIR WAY, DANGER LURKS IN THEIR HEARTS
Aerin Renning is a scarred fugitive, Dane Madousin a rebellious son of privilege. On the surface, they have nothing in common. But the two most competitive freshmen at Academy 7 share an undiscovered bond. Both harbor a dangerous secret that threatens their own destruction. And while their safety depends upon their staying apart, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other. Even as unknown forces conspire to separate them, their competition turns to friendship, and their friendship to romance. Now not only their lives-but their hearts-are at stake. To survive, the two must unite all their knowledge, skills, and gifts to uncover a secret bigger than either could have imagined. A secret as big as the entire universe . . .
OPINION: 5 STARS
It is my understanding that this author originally intended there to be at least one more book after this one but it hasn't been picked up for publishing yet. I could be wrong- don't quote me on it- but if so, I can definitely see how she wanted it that way and have to say, I WANT MORE! More of the main characters, more of their backgrounds- especially Aerin's- and more of the story itself as there are several things left unanswered that I can only surmise or imagine but have no concrete proof of it. This is definitely a novel I will reread and only wish that there would be more.
On that note, I really loved this book. In truth, from reading the summary, I didn't realize how futuristic it would be but Osterlund pulled this setting off masterfully- throwing the reader right into it from the start while still easing them through an entirely unique setting. Despite there being plenty of new planet names, most everything else was centered around things that we can easily picture in current times- modern words strung together to create a picture of things don't exist but certainly could. Even the Trade Union and the Alliance are things that I could easily understand and picture without finding it bulky or hard to follow throughout the progression of the story.
The writing is good- not great, but certainly not shoddy, half done, or lazy. Osterland has a strong enough grasp of words to paint images into your mind easily and even had a few shining scenes in which she really pulled through the emotion. I was not all out wowed but not once did the writing detract from the story in any way.
Both Dane and Aerin are very strong characters. Each with their own dark past, hiding secrets and determined to not crack, they are thrust together in a surprisingly interesting way- made better by the twist towards the end of the novel. I felt both developed logically and strongly, particularly since the story tends to shift back and forth between focus but remains in third person the entire time. You don't fully get into their heads but one does not outshadow the other in terms of spotlight time. As each of their stories unfolded, I found myself falling in love with them both as individuals and as a couple more and more.
This entire plot and set is so unique to me that I am not even sure I can think of many novels to compare it to. I can stretch, and focus on certain points to make such connections but overall, at least with what I have read in this genre especially, this one stands alone which says a lot for Osterlund. I give this one 5 stars because it kept me interested, it had strong characters and even though the writing wasn't insurmountably phenomenal, it still told this story incredibly well. The plot is original and I didn't outwardly see plot holes or places where it seemed as though she used an easy way out to tie things together- everything was clearly thought through.