Line and Orbit by Sunny Moraine and Lisa Soem
Title: Line and Orbit
Authors: Sunny Moraine and Lisa Soem
Publisher: Samhain, February 2013
Rating: B List
Blurb: What he’s been taught to fear could be his destiny…and his only hope.
Adam Yuga, a rising young star in the imperialist Terran Protectorate, is on the verge of a massive promotion…until a routine physical exam reveals something less than perfection. Genetic flaws are taboo, and Adam soon discovers there’s a thin line between rising star and starving outcast.
Stripped of wealth and position, stricken with a mysterious, worsening illness, Adam resorts to stealing credits to survive. Moments from capture by the Protectorate, help arrives in the form of Lochlan, a brash, cocksure Bideshi fighter.
Now the Bideshi, a people long shunned by the Protectorate, are the only ones who will offer him shelter. As Adam learns the truth about the mysterious, nomadic people he was taught to fear, Lochlan offers him not just shelter—but a temptation Adam can only resist for so long.
Struggling to adapt to his new life, Adam discovers his illness hides a terrible secret, one that the Protectorate will stop at nothing to conceal. Time is growing short, and he must find the strength to close a centuries-old rift, accept a new identity—and hold on to a love that could cost him everything.
Review: World building. I’m a sucker for it, wish I could do it, and will read anything that contains it. The farther removed from our reality a new world in fiction is, the more intrigued I am. It takes talent, focus, and a level of imagination few possess, but it’s the ultimate in an entertaining reader’s getaway. Writers Soem and Moraine have built a world full of mystique, technology, snarky ship captains (my favorite!) and loyalty as well as a healthy dose of humanity.
I won’t lie; this book is dense. It took me three weeks to read, just to make sure I knew where it was going. One suggestion I will make is that there’s a Glossary of terms at the end. If you pick up this title, read the Glossary first. I didn’t, and while eventually I figured out that Khara was a curse and other things unfamiliar to my own little corner of Earth, I could have saved myself some frustration.
In Adam Yuga’s world, perfection is king, and the first thing enhanced is the body itself. Generations of enhancements built on enhancements have engineered a near perfect race… so everybody thinks. The slow slide of disintegration we see beginning with Adam is disconcerting, and it’s no wonder he resorts to desperate measures to survive. Everything he’s ever known is ripped away from him nearly the minute he’s seen as flawed.
Lochlan (insert a bunch of names here) d’Bideshi is used to desperation, to living on the edge of hedonism, doing what’s fun, what feels good, and what generally occurs to him when it occurs. He’s a free spirit who bucks the system—any system, but particularly the Protectorate, given their clashes in the past—and flouts authority at every chance. So when a stumbling, fleeing Adam Yuga crosses his path with a team of white-suited Protectorate officials hot on his heels, Lochlan doesn’t think. He just grabs, saving Adam for the time being.
The dance between Adam and Lochlan was a slow build, one that had me laughing at Lochlan’s sharp barbs, his sardonic resistance to Adam’s compelling innocence, and I was all melty-gooey inside when finally, Lochlan admitted to feeling more than the good time romps he was known for. I sighed with contentment when Adam finally let himself feel worthy of someone’s feelings for him, that he deserved the attention he got, and that he’d really, once and for all, found a place to call home.
The secondary characters are rich and unique, with Kae and Leila, two friends of Lochlan’s and experienced warriors within the Bideshi, Adisa, the homeship leader, and Ixchel, the mysterious blind seer- who-can-see-without-eyes standing at Adisa’s right hand, Ying the healer, and so many more. They show Adam what family truly means, how belonging is as important as having a home, and loyalty has nothing to do with one’s roots.
If it weren’t for the length of time it took me to finally immerse in this story, I would have given it an A rating. As it was, I got to 40% before I felt like I had any kind of understanding of what was going on, but I kept going. It felt worth it to continue, and I’m so glad I did, because it was epic, adventurous, gut-churning, sweetly romantic, and in general full of everything I love in a tale like this: excitement, love, the search for and defense of fundamental rights, and a conclusion so big, so wild, that I had to stop biting my lip for fear of drawing blood. If you’re looking for a good long escape from everyday life, pick up Line and Orbit. Well worth the effort.
Reviewed by: Anita