Saturday, 6 September 2014

Book: Alterra by Zachary Bonelli

I received a copy of Alterra in exchange for my review.

19 year old Le is in his final year at school, and has to make the choice between the Monastery and the University. His boyfriend, Shey is set on the University path, and is even a part of the Resurgents who believe that the Monastery should be toppled. When Le meets Stok, who shows him that the nanites inside the Zones are harmless, Le's world changes completely. He realises that he wants neither the Monastery or the University, but instead wants a third way, and he breaks up with Shey when he realises that he actually wants Stok. Just when they think they have it all sorted out, Stok is chosen as the Messenger and is sent through the portal back to their home world, Asura, leaving a heart broken Le behind.

Link to Goodreads

I've never been disappointed by Zachary Bonelli's books before, and I certainly haven't this time either! In contrast to Voyage Embarkation and Insomnium, I read Alterra as a whole rather than as episodes (and Alterra is shorter than the combined episodes of the other two books.)

Alterra had links to the other two worlds that Bonelli has created, which is one of the things I like about his writing. Though all three stories are completely different, with different characters, plots and experiences, there are little things (mainly metaxic travel and nanites) that link them together. Plus, as the setting of Bonelli's world allows for alternative worlds and dimensions, all of his characters can exist in the same universe (even though they're not the same series).

There are three central characters in Alterra, Le, Shey and Stok. Mostly the story is narrated from Le's point of view, but in the second section the point of view switches between Shey and Stok. The mixed point of view was certainly interesting, and told the story of what was happening on Asura as well as on Alterra during the year that Stok was away. I think that without it a large part of Stok's development as a character wouldn't have been possible. Also without the switch of point of view I don't think that Shey could have been redeemed from being over-jealous in his beliefs and completely disregarding Le's.

I hate to mention this, because to me it really doesn't matter but I know that to some readers it will. All three of the central characters are gay. There are comments made about physical acts between them but they aren't on page, and all three of them fully accept and say that they are gay. As I said, to me this doesn't make a difference at all, and I think there should be more gay main characters out there in books that aren't romance.

Relationships played a large role in Alterra, and not just the romantic relationships between Le and Shey and Le and Stok. There was also the friendship that was regained between Le and Shey after the year had passed, as well as the relationships to various people, particularly Kish, that Stok interacted with on Asura. It gave the story more meaning and made it so that I felt very invested in the outcome...particularly with Mox in the equation (which again is a subject I don't think is explored enough in none romance books).

Once again Zachary Bonelli has created a rich world (well worlds) with well defined and explored characters and a plot that made you keep wanting to turn the pages and find out what's next. I can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve next!

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