I have to confess, I rarely read anything that strays into the genre of science fiction. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I find the concept of traveling into outer space utterly terrifying, but, even when losing myself in a book, I prefer to remain safely grounded on Earth. However, I’m so glad I made an exception for this novel. Though the story has all the elements of classic sci-fi—spaceships, advanced technology, an alien race from another planet—there is a gritty realism about it that really appealed to me.

Gareth has led a harsh life. When he was just five years old, he was injured in a boating accident that has left him noticeably scarred down one cheek. Since then, abandoned by parents who felt unequipped to deal with him, he has been shunted from one foster home to another. Starved of affection, hardened by the violence that seems to pursue him wherever he goes, Gareth has learned to project an image of one who can take care of himself. No one would ever guess that the tough exterior hides a soft heart, let alone suspect that he might be gay.

The closest Gareth has ever had to a friend is a mysterious boy with blue-green eyes. Aranth never speaks, but he is always there to step in when Gareth is in trouble, or simply to hold him at night when he most needs comfort. Gareth wonders sometimes whether he’s merely a figment of his imagination. In fact, the truth is far more incredible. From birth, Gareth has been in line to rule the distant planet of Rayan, and Aranth is his guardian, charged with the task of protecting him from those who would kill rather than see him take the throne. If he is to succeed, Gareth must not only survive the attempts on his life, but draw on his own inner strength.

This is a fast-pace read packed with action and suspense, and yet it was Gareth and Aranth’s developing romance that really captivated me. What starts out as the innocent friendship of young boys, deepens gradually over time, forming a bond that goes beyond any ordinary human relationship. When Gareth’s destiny finally catches up with him, throwing him and Aranth together, the sexual tension between them can no longer be ignored. This, combined with the intense danger of their situation, made for a book I found impossible to put down.

If you enjoy young adult fiction that balances romance with plenty of action, and like a more realistic twist to your sci-fi, I can certainly recommend this novel.

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Written for Rainbow Book Reviews and first published on Blogcritics

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