Author: Sara Baysinger
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Release Date: January 8th, 2018
Published by Entangled Teen
When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.
Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.
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“What have we here. A runaway?”
I can’t think. In my panic I can hardly breathe—
“Easy there.” His voice is lucid and smooth, not rough and unkind like I imagined it would be. He releases me. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The first scattered thought that crosses my mind when I look at him is, he’s not really too different from Humans. I mean, apart from being exceptionally tall, he really could pass for a Human. His tanned face is clean-shaven, and when he smiles, dimples appear. Dark feathery hair the color of molasses curls around two pointed ears. Amusement flickers in his eyes—and for the first time I notice the strange color of them. They’re not crazy at all, the way Johnson described. They have a purple hue, soft and deep like lilacs. Never look them in the eye. One of Johnson’s many lessons. I avert my gaze.
“What are you doing outside the plantation?” His voice is not accusing but slightly curious. “You shouldn’t be out here unless you have a death wish. Correct?”
My stomach drops. Yes. He thinks I’m a slave. This could be good.
Or really bad.
I glance at the sky, think of something to say, but every Tavdorian word I’ve ever learned has decided to take a vacation.
“The sunset,” I finally say in his language. “You can get the best view from here.” It’s the weakest excuse ever, but it’ll buy me some time.
“The sunset?” He crosses his arms, and I notice how strong he is, his forearms corded in muscle.“You risked your life leaving the plantation…for a sunset?”
One swallow. Two blinks. “It’s worth it, don’t you think?” I gesture toward the sky, now turning a deep shade of crimson.
He swivels his eyes toward the sunset, then back at me. A confused smile forms on his two perfect lips, and I briefly wonder if all Tavdorians are this good-looking or if I’ve officially lost my mind.
“Alno must be lenient. Not many slaves get the privilege of enjoying a sunset.”
My heartbeat spikes. Look away. Johnson told me Tavdorians never speak civilly to Humans. It’s all orders and reprimands. So why is this one speaking to me? Why isn’t he reacting in anger at my “privilege”?
“But you don’t have to worry about a lashing from me.” The Tavdorian steps closer, and my shoulders stiffen. He’s so tall my head barely reaches his chest. If he thought I was a runaway, he could easily swing me over his shoulder and carry me to the plantation himself.
“What do you want with me?” The question comes out in a breathless whisper. I allow myself to peek up at him. He stares back, his eyes sparking with curiosity.
“Simple conversation would be enough.”
A conversation. With a Tavdorian. There’s nothing simple about that.
“You don’t need to tremble so much. I’m not going to harm you.” He waves his hand in the air. “Or tell on you for running away.”
“Thank you,” I manage to whisper, realizing after I speak the words that I just confirmed his suspicion.
“I would suggest you run with more resources, though. Food. Water.” His eyes drift over my threadbare tunic, and he frowns. “Layers of clothing, perhaps.”
“I’m fine, really.”
“Do you know how to hunt?”
I’m starting to wonder if this is an interrogation. He narrows his eyes and lowers his voice a notch. “Or are you meeting with other runaways? I heard there were two who ran from the plantation. Alno must have a terrible time keeping his fence intact.”
I can’t speak. My mouth has been bolted shut, my fear threatening to choke me.
He sighs and drags his hand through his hair. “This conversation is seriously getting boring. You can either speak to me like a civil…being. Or you can walk away and leave me hanging, wondering who the mysterious copper-haired runaway was that I met on the riverbank.”
My brain screams at me to walk away, but this Tavdorian isn’t the only curious one here.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I read the description for this book. I like science fiction, but I don't normally read many alien-related novels - so I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive and on the fence to begin with. Gladly, I was quickly and easily sucked into Lark's world and ended up really liking the book. There were a couple aspects that I didn't really care for much - the majority of the story line was about slavery, inequality, social injustice, freeing slaves, escaping, etc. I knew this before starting due to the description, but I found myself getting bored some of the time with it. I'm not exactly sure what didn't grab my attention - sometimes it felt dry and boring, and the pace felt like it was dragging along. On top of that, it felt kind of overplayed - like it was almost over the top with all of it. I'm not sure that even makes sense to anyone, but it's the best I can describe it. There were quite a few secondary characters that made the story interesting, but also confusing at times because these characters were different species and had different ranks in the society, and so on. That was another part that brought me down a bit.
On the positive side, I really loved Lark and her story. She really changes and grows into her own throughout the book, and we get to see that as it happens. I found her character easy to identify with, very likeable, and realistic. She was a great main character that I found myself invested in from the beginning and rooting for the entire length of the story. Of course, I also loved Kalen and getting to know him. He's supposed to be one of the bad guys, but Lark manages to make him open up and we see him for who he is and wants to become. I adored seeing them meet and then watching as their relationship grew and bloomed during the story. The last thing I want to mention that stood out for me was the author's writing style. She wrote from the first person point of view, with Lark as the narrator. This is by far my favorite style of writing and I think it worked perfectly for this story. We got to really know Lark throughout the book and it felt like I was going through everything right beside her. That's one trait I believe only the first person POV style can give to the reader and it always makes a huge difference for me and my reading experience. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of YA science fiction and readers who especially like sci-fi romance and alien fiction.