I requested this book on NetGalley because I really like sci-fi and, honestly, it reminded me a bit of the premise for The 100 (which I think has wasted a lot of its potential). This was my first Vaun book, and I'd probably read more in the future.
The premise is that Leah crash-lands on a planet called Proxima B after decades in cryogenic suspension. Her ship was one of ten, and it's the planet they were aiming for. Unfortunately, none of the rest of her crew survived and Proxima B isn't quite as uninhabited as she'd expected. Keegan, a military commander, finds Leah out in the desert and rescues her by taking her back to Hadyn City, where they get caught up in political struggles as well as their growing feelings for one another.
Honestly, I'm still having trouble rating this book. There were aspects I enjoyed and aspects I didn't, and I'm still not sure which side wins out. The beginning was a bit slow. Leah's POV is a bit discombobulated (on purpose, I think, to represent her coming out of cryo), and her decision-making is slightly suspect. These moments might have been more believable if the scenes--and Leah's internal dialogue--were fleshed out a bit.
Keegan is a character I tend to like--a badass warrior who doesn't handle emotions well. I liked her when she was doing her thing as a military leader. I liked her less when she was interacting with Leah. Actually, their relationship is the weakest aspect of the book. It starts out kind of weird and non-consensual. Even though they're both physically attracted to each other, there's definitely a power imbalance. At one point, Leah is grateful that Keegan doesn't act on her attraction, and my note there just says, "You don't get points for not raping someone." This definitely improves as the book goes on, but I wish the relationship had been handled differently at the beginning.
However, after the halfway point, this book really picked up for me. It focused a little less on the relationship and a little more on the plot, and that shift really worked. I found myself much more interested in the story line of the two different settlements and the power struggle in Hadyn City. Vaun also makes some interesting points about humanity and strength.
For me, the writing was okay, but I do tend to be very specific in what I like. Although sometimes POVs were separated by scene breaks, other times, Leah's and Keegan's POVs would slide right into one another, which was a little distracting. I was occasionally disappointed by scenes Vaun left out, like one important moment where Keegan is left for dead. Mainly, I wish the book had been longer so certain scenes and relationships could be fleshed out. I think there's a lot that could be done with the societies Vaun introduces. It ends rather abruptly, too, when Vaun could have taken more time to wrap things up. I liked some of the secondary characters, particularly Yates and Hardy, and if there's another book, I'd read it.
Thanks to NetGalley, Bold Strokes Books, and Missouri Vaun for the e-copy.