Book Review: Dust & Lightning

A fast-paced (but not rushed) science-fiction adventure which follows an ordinary man off to do the extraordinary for his brother.

By Rebecca Crunden. Buy it on Amazon! :3

I am tenderly awarding this book four and a half hearts! Plus an extra paw. Why a paw you may ask? Well, I’ll get to that in a bit. First, the book’s summary:

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isn’t far behind.

Dust & Lightning is 122 pages of expertly paced dystopian science fiction. And if my dog, Loki, is to be believed (and he is), it is also extremely captivating. See, I read in bed. Sometimes that confuses Loki because the lights are on and I am not sleeping as I should, which means he’ll be looking at me from between his paws like I just committed a crime. And have you ever tried to read while there is a dog judging you? It’s distracting.

So I started reading the book out loud to him for a while and aaaa you should have seen his face. He perked up, ears and all, got his big and alert puppy dog eyes out, and listened very intently while the tip of his tail did a little wag. He loves the book is what I am trying to say, which I fully understand. I do too!

There’s so much to love in these 122 pages. Driven on by a letter insisting that his brother is dead, but convinced that there is more to it than what everyone wants him to believe, Ames (our protagonist) is thrown into a world of cruel conspiracies. He chases the only lead he has, all the way across the solar system and beyond, all the while desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the people who’d vanish him if they caught up with him. On that journey, we get to see what sort of man Ames is, what his principles are, how far he’d willing to go for the people he cares about, and why he should not ever be allowed to name a cat.

The world-building in the book is excellent. Not a single word is wasted and everything mentioned has meaning and builds towards a greater whole. The characters are immediately memorable, from our protagonist all the way down to the supporting cast. We’ve also got an amazing friendship shaped between a man and a woman, one that doesn’t rely on attraction (something I love dearly). And have I mentioned the prose?

No?

Well, there’s a sample from the first few pages of the book, which I hope gives you an idea what sort of treat you’re in for:

Each new discovery prompted exploitation, greed, uprisings. Like humans were in an abusive relationship with the universe.

Bottom line: If you like dystopian sci-fi and have a thing for adventures where a small group stands up against a corrupt and ruthless regime, then I absolutely recommend this book. It has mystery. Chase scenes. Friendship. Weird bugs. A cat. And an electric ending.

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