Book Review: The Salarian Desert Game by: J.A. McLachlan

The Salarian Desert Games
By: J. A. McLachlan
Genre: YA Fiction, Sci-fi, Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

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What if someone you love gambled on her life?

Games are serious business on Salaria, and the stakes are high. When Kia’s older sister, in a desperate bid to erase their family debt, loses the game and forfeits her freedom, Kia is determined to rescue her. Disguised as a Salarian, Kia becomes Idaro in order to move freely in this dangerous new culture. When she arrives on Salaria, she learns it’s a world where a few key players control the board, and the pawns are ready to revolt. Kia joins the conflict, risking everything to save her sister. As if she doesn’t already have enough to handle, Agatha, the maddeningly calm and unpredictable Select who lives life both by-the-book and off-the-cuff shows up to help, along with handsome Norio, a strong-willed desert girl with her own agenda, and a group of Salarian teens earning their rite of passage in the treacherous desert game.

What can an interpreter and former thief possibly do in the midst of all this to keep the people she loves alive?

Book Review

I was soo happy when I found out we were going to see Kia (and Agatha) in action again, since The Occasional Diamond Thief. (Which coincidentally, I review almost around the exact same time last year)  And while we do not get to see really Kia utilize her occasionally needed formidable skill set, The Salarian Desert Game actually depicts Kia stealing something that is very tip of the hat worthy. Kia steals an identity, but not the run of the mill paper work identity; she even changes her appearance. Disguised as the daughter of a lost/banished Salarian, Kia rather Idaro, finds herself once again being called to duty to server/assist in an ubber secret O.U.B. mission.

And she accepts? Kia?? I know, sounds weird, but you know Kia has alternative motives. Her older sister Oghogho has been forced onto the planet to pay off a debt and Kia sets out on a mission to find and rescue her, but we, and Kia, quickly realize that on Salaria, that is easier said than down as the planet is on the brims of a Civil War between the two societies inhabiting it.

What I liked about this book was that the author takes the mechanics from book one and places them in this entirely new environment, which really made this book feel freshly independent from the previous story to an extent. (Sometimes, you just need a sequel to not feel like a full-fledged sequel, you know? Makes it more enjoyable.)

If I’m honest, it was a bit of an adjustment in the beginning to fully accept and comprehend that Kia’s next heist/mission would force her to drastically alter her appearance. It was also an adjustment (and bummer) to see that Kia and Agatha were not going to be around each other as much, but Agatha’s character—as unpredictably loveable as she is—really surprised me in this book and I loved the fact that we’re able to learn more about her past.

I also really enjoyed how Kia’s character was able to gain her own amount of closure regarding the loss of her parents, friends and a sense of self, even if she were impersonating Idaro. And of course, I loved the implications in the back of the book that hint at the possibility to see Kia again in another adventure in the future.

The one thing that is really starting to get on my nerves thought and Kia’s, is the O.U.B. and it’s constant manipulation and interference in her life. They’ve requested her help (with not much choice behind it) in both books and not only was her life put into danger, but in the end a family member has ended up dead or hurt! I liked that Kia herself was steadily growing impatient and fed up with the O.U.B. using her for these assignments when ever there was a ‘vision’ and I’m just hoping she stays true to that resolve next time around.

The Salarian Desert Game and The Occasional Diamond Thief are great adventure and sci-fi YA fiction books with a smart, sassy and independent POC female lead protagonist and I’d recommend them both to every one.

Thanks so much for stopping by to check out my review. ^_^

Until the next post,