Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release Date: Out now
Hunted to near extinction by an alien race called the Ko, my people have run from Earth and drifted so far among the stars we can’t remember the way back. We live everywhere, but call nowhere home. The Ko want us erased from existence and memory. They don’t even want our DNA in the space dust. Humans disguise themselves as other alien species and hide in plain sight. It’s the only way we can survive.
I believe in the myth of Earth. I’ve even discovered a bona fide book written in the dead language of my people. My man, Brody, dreams of a secret human colony. He’s searched for years, hunting any rumor we’ve run across, and finally he’s made contact. Usually, he’s the one grounding me to station and keeping my head out of the atmosphere. Time for me to return the favor…that is, if I can ditch the Ko who’ve discovered me, thanks to my incessant artifact-hunting. If we don’t make our rendezvous, and the Ko don’t kill me, Brody just might…
CONTENT WARNING: Aliens, cargo ships, and a fast paced race against all odds.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Lucy and Brody are hiding from the Ko, a vicious alien race who are determined to wipe every human from the universe. There are only a few surviving humans, and only a few managed to have scattered across the galaxy and have disguised themselves as other aliens to escape the wrath of the Ko. Lucy who escaped her family’s massacre by boarding on a cargo ship as a stowaway and is discovered by another human, Brody who is hiding under an alien disguise helps to hide her from the Ko. Both Lucy and Brody become lovers but they’re always yearning a safe place to be free from the threat they’re facing from being discovered and killed. Although it doesn’t help that that Lucy is fascinated by human artefacts even though they are outlawed and her purchase of a children Christmas’s book endangers her to the Ko who are hell-bent on erasing all traces of humanity.
I liked the world-building and characters that Annie Nicholas has created. The aliens and sci fi setting were colourful and vibrant and I enjoyed the humour and ambiance of the tone of the different alien cultures. Although I wished there were more information and background on the reasons why the Ko were so hateful and gung-ho on trying to kill of the humans and what made them so powerful. That was the weakest aspect of the story because this was the first book of the series about this world and I expected more because I was left curious about how the humans were almost wiped out and how the Ko managed to do this. It was very vague for a book that kick starts a series.
The romance on the other hand was cute, and I liked that it was established before the novella starts. I usually find it hard with the development of a romance in a novella because it is always so short for me. I liked how their romance began, and there was this sweet and sexy overtone to it. Brody was much wiser and careful in his quest to find a safe haven for him and Lucy who is the more impulsive and was the one who jeopardise their lives in hunting down human relics, but she never ventured into TSTL territory and it was understandable to find roots and signs of human culture. I really loved this element of the story which really emphasizes the hopelessness and yearning to find a safe home and other humans. I also enjoyed the subplot of Lucy trying to get human objects because it really highlighted how stark the fate of humans dying out, and there was a sweet albeit sentimental and hopeful symbolic ending with the children’s book.
I found Lucy’s character was much more developed because much of the focus of the story is on her and the danger she puts herself in. I didn’t get a grasp of Brody’s character and would have liked more on expansion on his backstory before he met Lucy and he never really leapt up on the page for me although he was good hero material. There were some fun twists and action sequences towards the climactic ending of the novella which made the pace flow really well.
NO REFUGE is a breezy sci fi romance, with a great premise. although I wished the set up for the world-building expanded a lot more on the reasons of why the Ko hated humanity and while there were some tantalizing hints on why they focus on killing off humans it did undermine the world-building a bit for me. But this is a enjoyable novella especially if you enjoy sci fi romance with a pleasant and sweet romance. I just wished there was more depth to the background of the setting.
I give NO REFUGE a C+