James McStravick review Dissent by Thomas Olbert.
A thrilling, inventive space opera of a fascinating and terrifying future where newborn life is won in battle and death. Genetic engineering has removed the male influence and Femes, a sapien race similar to legendary Amazon Warriors, fight each other for supremacy across the galaxy.
Despite being born with the genes of nobility, Kaylenn decides to prove herself in battle. Nothing is more sacred to a Kralite. When her government declares war, she is eager to prove herself again. All opponents fall before her, but when she has no choice but to place her faith in Saaryth– a lowly Kaltaarist squadron commander– or face glorious death herself, she chooses to live.
Born to the tribe, Saaryth embodies the unity and self-sacrifice that is the birthright of all Kaltaarists. After years of being marginalized by their Kralite-led government, Saaryth shows Kaylenn the potential of the many working together in perfect harmony to accomplish a single goal. But Kaylenn’s fiery passion awakens within Saaryth desires forbidden to Kaltaarists: she doesn’t want to share.
Their union provokes the ire of the governments and corporations controlling the galaxy, but is the only hope to save Kaylenn’s homeworld. The Nexus is always watching… and its judgment is neigh.
I usually find it difficult to read political space opera books, but Dissent made it easy, with its mixture of politics and action. Dissent takes what makes some space operas great and merges it with the action of a space adventure.
The world-building takes place over multiple planets and locations, each of which are beautifully described. This helps to distract from some political scenes, which seem overly stretched and the intrigue of how certain political developments will affect the environments and its inhabitants.
There are a lot of interesting characters in Dissent – each have their own unique personalities which make them very memorable. This is extremely helpful in a book that can have some complex undertones, especially when each character has their own political movements. This doesn’t mean to say that the characters are perfect, as I found it very difficult to care about some of them, and this sometimes lead to me wanting to push on quicker so I could find out more about one particular character. This was more apparent with Ralyn, as you are only given small droplets about her character throughout the course of the book, and so you are always left wanting to know more about her.
I think the time jumps in this books can be considered both a good and bad aspect, as it alleviated the problem of the book getting bogged down in too many details while trying to progress the story, but also it sometimes felt that certain scenes, such as the hunting, could have been given more detail.
Overall I felt Dissent was a good book that left me wanting more; particularly more detail about the action scenes and less about the political, but this could be down to my own personal taste. These points aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it; it provides an extremely fun read for a genre that a lot of readers find difficult to break into.
Dissent is a complex action packed sci-fi that is very easy read and could possibly be considered a good entry point into the space opera genre, without getting involved in a heavily complex space opera book.