Vaironian Tides – Octavia Atlas

Vaironian Tides (or Times, as my autocorrect likes to call it -.-) is the first ARC I scored on Booksirens, and therefore I had High Hopes© about it. Why? No idea. I’ve got to say that for the most part, VT lived up to them.

Let’s dig in.

First of all, VT has a solid plot. Oh my God, Tx, of course it does? It’s a book! you’d say. Well, yeah, but it’s not a given. I mean, I read stories that shared the same structure with my grocery list – I’m not kidding – and being able to put a tick next to the plot box is a good feeling. Plus, I said solid.

The two main characters, Tolrek and Darion, move within an intricate and well-crafted sci-fi scenario, filled with technology and governments that don’t like each other that much but make do anyway. Tildar and Vaironia sometimes remind me of two people who are bound by contract to be nice… and they do. The knives they’re sharpening as we speak are just for decoration. Or something.

I’m really interested in this aspect, because VT is just the first installment of a series, and throughout the whole book I kept wondering why the Behadan* of Tildar didn’t just say ‘fuck this’ and invaded Vaironia. Yes, commercial treaties. Yes, pillage the village / trash the scene is not okay, nevermind what Phil Anselmo says, but it’s stated that the Tildari folks are ‘the physically and politically strongest’ of them all, could ‘overpower most of the system’s residents’ and have a penchant for the military.

Why would a Tildari seal off a part of their power just to live on Vaironia? I can’t figure it out, but I’m confident it’ll be addressed in the next books. If you ask me, it’s all part of a clever takeover plan, infiltration works better than just invading a planet.

It’s clear why Darion would, instead; I don’t agree with many of his choices, but they’re portrayed in a realistic way and I have no issues in following his journey. Tolrek, for a while I thought he had a hidden agenda and I loved the way he snatched the opportunity to drop the Pet status. There’s character growth, that’s what I’m saying, and that’s one more thumb up for the yay box.

Special mention goes to the side characters: I tend to ignore the supporting cast when I read something, but here I found myself enjoying a lot the Behadan and Dairon’s family. They all kick ass, a personality trait that I love.

Last but not least, the writing style is good. Short sentences mixed with longer ones, good variety – pet peeve #567586736750, when every paragraph starts with the same letter or word – realistic dialogues. I’d cut a couple adverbs here and there, but this is just me hating them. Ignore me.

What didn’t work for me then? A couple things (well, three).

  • Unnecessary sex scenes.
  • Descriptions
  • Pov

I’m not really a fan of sex scenes in LGBT books – or in any book, I’ve got to say – because 9 times out of 10 they don’t move the plot forward. Maybe I read too many pwps in my prime and now I’m all maxed out, but when I pick up a story, I want substance. By saying that, I don’t mean ‘throw the romance out of the window straight into a dumpster fire’, just that keeping it as a subplot would strenghten the arc. One good scene every X, with a meaning, deserves a chef kiss. Too many, and I grow bored.

Plus, the video part and the way Tolrek gives in to Darion (and viceversa) with little to no power struggle don’t sit well with me. The former still puzzles me – it could have been anything else, more poignant than a sextape – and the latter gives me pause. Tolrek is a rebel, a prisoner, and owned by Darion for a good part of the book; Darion is a negotatior with extensive military background. With that premise, I’d expect them to be more pigheaded, ‘I do what I want’.

Mind you, I was ready to moan a lot about the enemies-to-lovers trope being solved in 1-2-3, but midway through I realized the purpose behind it, so this is not a critique about that: it’s a critique about the mere execution.

I swear it made sense in my head.

I also have issues with descriptions. With the much needed caveat of this being a personal preference, I care very little about dresses and shoes and appearance. Again, I feel it’s unnecessary unless it’s relevant to the plot: eye color and marks are important in this book, so yes, tell me all about it. The kind of clothes they wear? Not so much.

One last thing that made me blink upon reading is the Nolan and Behadan POVs. We get Tolrek’s and Darion’s as main, they work fine. Why adding more?

All in all, I liked VT! I’m giving it 7/10 and I’ll be ready to snatch the ARC of the sequel as soon as it drops. I made a bet with myself about the traitor’s identity and I need to know if I’m right. 😉

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