Through the Hostage – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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J C Steel

Through the Hostage by J C Steel is a compelling journey through a fully realized alien world that seems to be teetering on the brink of internal war. This book tells the story of Khyria Ilan, an alien being who is reluctant to accept her role as leader of a potential group of mercenary fighters. Khyria is forced to deal with many obstacles during her journey, from armed rebellions to a government sponsored conspiracy, to establish and maintain authority over her unit.

Through the Hostage is an incredibly well thought out book. Steel has created a fresh, vibrant world full of engaging characters and tense situations. One drawback though is that Steel stumbles a bit in defining and explaining the many alien concepts. This is particularly the case at the beginning of the novel when the reader experiences everything through the eyes of the book’s alien characters. On the one hand, it is refreshing to read an author who trusts that her audience will keep up with her, however the sheer amount of worldbuilding is a lot to keep up with, leaving something to be desired in terms of context.

What misgivings the reader may have at the beginning of the novel all but disappear once a handful of chapters go by. The introduction of Jack helps to give the reader a solid footing, and gives the characters a reason to explain their alien traditions and behaviors. This greatly enhances the experience of reading the book. The pacing is just about perfect, keeping the reader of the edge of their seat as they are never sure if Khyria, her second, Taiva, and their poor hostage, Jack, will make it to the end. Through the Hostage by J C Steel is an excellent first book in The Cortii Series. Fans of science fiction, worldbuilding, or just good storytelling will find themselves thoroughly engrossed in J C Steel’s excellent work.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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