Review: NOPHEK GLOSS by Essa Hansen

Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 448
Release Date: November 17th, 2020
Series: THE GRAVEN, Book 1
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It

Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nophek Gloss Cover

Caiden has spent his whole life being a simple mechanic doing a simple job, with no plans for anything bigger. But when his entire settlement is killed, Caiden is forced to flee for his life. After literally stumbling onto a spaceship, he discovers his planet is only one of thousands in the multiverse. Adopted by an eclectic crew, Caiden adjusts to this vast new life, but is driven by a singular goal: revenge on the group who killed his family. Caiden will have to leverage new technology, questionable alliances, and a rare ship with a unique power if he’s going to accomplish his goal, but what cost will prove too high for his revenge?

NOPHEK GLOSS is an absolutely mesmerizing piece of world-building. After a harrowing opening, the reader joins Caiden in being nearly overwhelmed with new aliens, ships, alliances, locations, and more. The sheer size of the worlds the author creates isn’t an onslaught, but a deep pool you are thrown into, and it is a delight to get your bearings. I absolutely loved being in a setting that was completely foreign to me, getting to know the rules and the aliens and everything in between.

Readers will need to throw their original conception of the multiverse out the door. Here, multiverse doesn’t mean “parallel universe” as it has come to be defined in popular culture. Instead, it, means that there are other, self-contained universes outside the main one that have their own physics, biomes, etc., not all of which are suitable for all species, and crossing between universes can be a dangerous or even lethal situation. Caiden falls in with a group of explorers called passagers, those who chart regions and exchange the knowledge back home for money and resources.

The first half of NOPHEK GLOSS I absolutely devoured. With its devastating opening and imaginative worlds, I kept wanting to see more and more of these universes. The back half of the book didn’t click quite as well for me, ironically because it was so fast paced. The first half of the book revels in introducing the reader to the world, spending all of its time on just a few days, so when events started moving in the back half, it felt oddly rushed. It frequently felt like a problem was introduced one chapter and resolved by the next one, with no chance for the tension to simmer and breathe. Combined with Caiden, who spends most of the book (deservedly) being an angry, impulsive character, and I felt myself falling off a bit.

That said, this is still a fantastic adventure and worth a read for those who love big sci-fi worlds. There are plenty of emotional moments scattered throughout the rushing action, and one theme of “found or forced” with regards to friendships absolutely tugged at my heartstrings as Caiden struggled with feelings of isolation in this giant galaxy. For a 400 page book, NOPHEK GLOSS is a book that moves incredibly well, and sets up tantalizing new adventures in future books.

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