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    REVIEW: Song Of The Navigator by Astrid Amara

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    Song Of The Navigator – Astrid Amara

    Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.

    Tover Duke’s rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.

    He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind—the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life—is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he’s something much more.

    When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it’s with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind—and his heart—is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.

    Warning: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence and assault. It also contains graphic sexual depictions. It also has a lot of birds. And pirate movies from the future. And romance.

    Tover Duke loves four things: food, soccer, birds and fucking.

    Tover is a navigator, one of only 42 improvisional navigators, someone with the ability to instantaneously transport anything to any part of the known and unknown universe using orbifolds he can create through vibrations in his vocal chords. He is a cherished celebrity, a demigod even to himself, whose every whim was catered to by his company, Harmony. That includes his own personal aviary because Tover is a hardcore bird otaku.

    At his birthday celebration, he was held hostage by Cruz Arcadio, a Harmony engineer he had occasional hook ups with and who he had a serious crush on. He was then sold by the Pulmon Verde, terrorist soldiers from Carida, to pirates in exchange for data. His world was turned up side down. Please heed the trigger warnings because it was nasty.

    I love this navigator world Astrid Amara created. The physics behind the orbitals is solid and interesting, though it would have been more so had I had some knowledge of string theory. Nonetheless, I was amazed with Tover’s teleportation powers. Like any realistically rendered superpower, it has its limitations. This being it takes up a LOT of energy which means he has to eat a lot too. At one point, it left Tover severely emaciated after jumping from Dadelus-Kaku to Carida to save Cruz. It didn’t stop him from doing it again.

    I love Tover! Like every navigator, he was a diva who had questionable rock star wardrobe (snake skin pants, really?). He may or may not have been an asshole at some point in his career, but the torture in the pirate ship and the eye-opening truths he learned in Carida changed him completely.

    The torture he suffered was brutal! My heart went out to him. It resulted in paralyzing PTSD. It was so bad he lost the ability to create orbifolds, the only thing he’s good at. It wasn’t just the pirates. Tover also learned the reality of his existence as a navigator. His was a story of what it means to be truly free. It was one of the most moving and satisfying character progressions I’ve ever read.

    Song of the Navigator is also story of corporate exploitation. The carbon-dioxide breathing people of Carida is fighting against the terraforming of their planet by Harmony. Terraforming Carida had very disastrous consequences. Cruz is a soldier of the Pulmon Verde, a military group working to bring down the corporation. He was working undercover. He was willing to do anything for their cause.

    I wanted to hate the poker-faced Cruz for doing what he did to Tover. It was a shitty, shitty thing to do. But when he showed Tover what was at stake, he convinced me it was worth it. He’s also fiercely proud of Tover’s ability and very protective of Tover’s freedom. It was his little acts of affection that made me believe he genuinely feels for the navigator.

    Tover was harder to convinced. Couldn’t blame the guy (and I wouldn’t have been impressed had he gave in easily. Yes, let Cruz grovel for a bit.). He refused to see that Harmony was using him. At the end, it was the birds that finally did it. And because Tover always had to be the hero, he did what he did best and gave a grand middle finger salute to his company. Attaboy!

    Favorite part:

    “You didn’t react to being shot. You don’t feel anything at all, do you?” Tover hated the hurt in his voice.

    “I feel everything.” Cruz stepped toward him. He said nothing more. But his eyes,€”they were warm now, dark and dilated. He moved so close he could pin Tover to the wall if he wanted to.

    “You should show it,” Tover suggested.

    And for a moment, Cruz’s visage broke. His eyes trembled and a glitter of moisture filled his eyes.

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    The story was a study in contrasts. Tover was an adored rockstar. Suddenly, he was a pirate slave. Then he was a beloved guest only to end up where he started. Even the settings were strikingly different, from the a highly urbanized space station, to an old pirate ship to a verdant planet. These 180-degree turns only served to heighten the gut-wrenching, emotional whiplashes I felt when reading the book.

    It was a tale as old as time. Betrayal. Slavery in its many forms. Huge corporation vs the minority. Natural resources threatened by bland suburban development. Even in the far future, these are still relevant and at a galactic scale. Tover, Cruz and the Pulmon Verde made major strides in saving Carida. I had a feeling they still have a few ways to go. It’s only an HFN ending but at least Tover will not be strapped to a machine against his will ever again. He has his birds and his games and all the tamales he can eat and he and Cruz can go at it everyday.

    Because Tover Duke loves five things.


    Astrid Amara books here

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine
    Artist: The Flaming Lips
    Album: Embryonic

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    REVIEW: Exit PLans For Teenage Freaks by Nathan Burgoine


    Exit PLans For Teenage Freaks – Nathan Burgoine

    Being the kid abducted by old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down.

    When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a museum he was just thinking about, Cole faces facts: he’s either more deluded than old Ms. Easton, or he just teleported. 

    Now every door is an accident waiting to happen―especially when Cole thinks about Malik, who, it turns out, has a glass door on his shower. When he starts seeing the same creepy people over his shoulder, no matter how far he’s gone, crushes become the least of his worries. They want him to stop, and they’ll go to any length to make it happen. 

    Cole is running out of luck, excuses, and places to hide. 

    Time for a new exit plan.

    Ever had a dream where you’re suddenly in a public place with no clothes on?

    That could very well be Cole’s reality when he suddenly gained the ability to teleport and he needed to get it under control fast! Teleportation is one of my top five must-have superpowers and like Cole, I’d have my fun with it too but we could all do without the creepy guys watching our every move.

    The way teleportation was used in this book was closer to magic realism than full blown fantasy because it was hardly focused on majority of the book. It was more like just another skill Cole needed to work on on top of academics and art. At some points, it felt inconsequential on the face of the everyday events Cole and his friends dealt with. It even occurred to me, this subplot was just there to give the book an extra something because without it, it would simply be a typical LGBT-themed YA.

    It took me a while to totally get into the story. It started slow for me then picked up when I was a third in. What I really enjoyed the most were the people and their relationships. I really loved Cole’s parents and I am happy to see a teenager who has a happy and contented relationship with his parents since many teenagers in books and movies seemed to complain about their parents. The Rainbow Club is a joy and even Grayson, the one they complained about, did good. Cole and Alec’s friendship are goals, Malik is a sweetheart and I want Candace in my corner. The representations were awesome and genuine. I think the only thing missing was a dog.

    The story zooms back to the teleportation part on the last 30% of the book. Cole finally meet the creepy people face to face, did some gutsy moves then poof! it ended just when him and Malik were heading somewhere fun. I don’t know if the book has a sequel, I hope it does. The way things ended between them, I think he might hear from other teleporters in the future. Also, I want to go places with Cole and Malik.

    Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks deals with a lot of things, from sexuality, growing up, career plans, disabilities to discovering you have superpowers. Some of these were well-developed and I particularly liked the inclusion of ASL in the novel, something the author knows first hand. Other aspects were either rushed or tossed around then left open such as Grayson and Alec’s conflict, Alec and Ben or that year-end party that was mentioned here and there but not shown. These asides and casual mentions reflects real life conversations but in a book, they’re kind of frustrating.

    Another plus for me is that while the book is about a gay teen, it is not about coming out and all the LGBT+ teens were happy being themselves. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think most people would also like the positive relationships, the diversity, and realistic portrayal of teenagers.


    I received a copy of Exit Plans For Teenage Freaks from Bold Strokes Books via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Song About Teleportation
    Artist: Wings of Love
    Album: The Charming Ghost of Freedom