An underground city, built centuries ago to ride out the devastating heat. A society under attack. And a young solar engineer whose skills may be the key to saving her city…if she doesn’t get herself killed first.
When Jossey was ten, the creatures of the aboveground took her brother and left her for dead, with horrible scars. Now, years later, she’s a successful solar engineer, working to keep her underground city’s power running, but she’s never really recovered. After she saves dozens of people during a second attack, she is offered a top-secret assignment as a field Engineer with Patrol, but fear prevents her from taking it…until Patrol finds bones near where her brother disappeared.
She signs on and finds herself catapulted into a world that is far more dangerous, and requires far more of her, than she ever imagined. The creatures and the burning heat aboveground are not the only threats facing the City, and what she learns during her assignment could cost her her life: one of the greatest threats to the City may in fact lie within. With thousands of lives at stake, can she act in time?
Disclaimer: I read both Aestus books in 2021 and reviewed them elsewhere at that time. This review is not part of the SPSFC2 competition, and is strictly my own opinion and not that of Team Escapist.
Aestus begins with Jossey, a solar engineer working for the City. Within the first couple chapters, she’s faced with the dangerous Onlar and her act of bravery helps ensure the safety of some of the other workers on her team. There’s an immediate sense of danger in Jossey’s world, but as the story progresses, the politics of the City become just as treacherous as the Onlar’s threat.
Aestus is a hefty book at over 700 pages, but I devoured it in a few days. It reads very well, has plenty of action and intrigue, and was a book that didn’t feel as long as it really was. The author did an incredible job of moving the story forward and at no point did I feel that it dragged.
The world of Aestus was in itself interesting. It’s alluded to that it’s set on our world but at a point in the future where climate change has taken a heavy toll. Temperatures are extreme, and water is scarce. I liked that the author mentioned water frequently as a scarce resource; it gave some necessary realism to the narrative and was another source of potential conflict.
While Jossey is definitely the main character, there are several others with point of view sections too. I actually happened to like Gavin the best out of the whole cast, but I tend to relate more to characters of his type no matter what I’m reading.
Aestus has a cinematic feel to many of its scenes, which I loved. Coupled with the pacing and the clean writing style, it made for a great read – and as I mentioned in my original review, it was one of the better science fiction books I’ve picked up in a long time.