Review: GOODBYE TO THE SUN by Jonathan Nevair

Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Page Count: 290
Release Date: May 18th, 2021
Series: WIND TIDE, Book 1
Rating: 2.75/5 Stars – Just Short of Liking It

Goodbye to the Sun

Ambassador Keen Draden is on a simple diplomatic pit stop; show up, shake some hands, move on. But before he even touches down on the planet of Kol 2, he finds himself kidnapped by a pilot named Razor. A member of the resistance group known as Motes, Razor and her comrades hope to leverage Keen as a hostage in exchange for concessions from the planet’s government. But some players in galactic politics find Keen more useful dead than alive, and Razor finds she doesn’t have a simple bargaining chip like she hoped. Keen makes a deal with Razor: get him to the planet Heroon, and he’ll find weapons for her resistance. But while Razor hopes to find a future for her people on Heroon, Keen soon finds his past catching up with him.

GOODBYE TO THE SUN is a space opera that has some interesting world-building and great action sequences, but ultimately fell a bit short of winning me over. I really enjoyed the world the author created, where people casually reform the environments of entire planets in order to capitalize on the profits that can be made from harvesting wind energy. The idea of wind storms that circle the planet is terrifying, to the point where they were almost another antagonist in the book. A ship chase that occurred on the crest of one of these wind tides was one of the highlights of the book. Indeed, the action itself was fairly solid, and I found myself looking forward to those sequences.

The author was also very interested in how the idea of gender could be approached in the future, creating a galactic culture where gender is never assumed, but is considered part of basic information exchanged between people, even if one is a captive and other a hostage-taker. In this universe, genders can be either hand-signed or declared via suffixes attached to a name during introduction, declaring which set of pronouns a person will be using and if they are fluid in their use and subject to change. The idea of a commonly accepted set of gender suffixes is an intriguing one, and one I’d be interested in seeing adapted to make the exchange of pronouns in our own culture less of an awkward affair.

Where the story fell flat for me was unfortunately in the character work. The book suffered a bit from telling instead of showing, so I found myself not connecting with their arcs. And these characters do go through some substantial arcs. Keen in particular suffers from PTSD from a war he fought decades ago, one that filled him with a self-loathing he’s never quite escaped. Keen learns to begin making amends with his past but his shift in character felt off. Part of it was hampered by short chapters from Razor’s POV in the future, where she’s reflecting on events. These interludes frequently tell us with what the arc is going to be, making Keen’s growth feel like it was hitting checkmarks that had been laid out rather than a natural evolution. Keen still gets some good beats, like when an old friend confronts him about whether he’s going to spend the rest of his life staring into a void or finally try to confront the things in his past he hates; but there were also moments I didn’t quite understand the directions his character arc was going..

I did also occasionally find the writing overly academic at times, which hindered my understanding of galactic politics and therefore the stakes. I knew there was a rebellion afoot, but wasn’t always clear who the players were and who was on who’s side. This isn’t necessarily critical knowledge for the book, since it is clearly meant to be a much more personal story, but it comes up just enough to make me wish I’d been steeped in the big picture a little more.

GOODBYE TO THE SUN is a read that fell juuust short for me, largely because I couldn’t quite connect with the characters. But those looking for adventure or a new sci-fi world to explore may find this up their alley!

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