“Aries regained her feet and staggered until the sand dunes ran together in an endless tide, until she collapsed, disoriented and dehydrated. She opened her mouth to gasp in air, and her lips cracked, letting trickles of blood seep into the sand. As she closed her eyes, precious beads of sweat evaporated instantly from her forehead.
At least I died free.”
- Dionne, Aubrie. Paradise 21 (A New Dawn, #1)
This is a very exciting book review for me. Why, you ask? I read this in rough draft form for Aubrie Dionne last year and I’m in the book acknowledgements for being a beta reader. This is also the first time I’ve seen a book from its beginnings to its publication. I wouldn’t have agreed to write this post if I wasn’t certain I’d love the final version of the book.
Here’s the blurb:
Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind's last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where mankind can begin anew- a planet that won't be reached in Aries' lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.
When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers rumors about pirates - humans who have escaped her before its demise - are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries' envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet's native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns freedom will come at a hefty price.
The life of the man she loves.
The book begins with Aries about to crash land on a desert planet, which had me swept in from the beginning. I liked Aries’s combination of independence and vulnerability. From there, we learn more about Aries and why she had to leave through her unattractive intended, Commander Barliss’s point of view. Next we meet Striker, the space pirate who was abandoned on the forsaken planet. His charisma reminded me of Indiana Jones. While Striker is an asset to the desolate planet, the creepy creatures that also live there are not. Soon we’re introduced to Tiff, the petite Goth girl with a bite who abandoned Striker, and whom she still has feelings for. She regrets her decision to stop believing in him, but is she too late?
Aubrie Dionne builds three believable worlds in this book: on the ship Aries left behind, on the planet Aries finds, and on a pirate ship where Tiff subsides.
The author is skilled at getting in the heads of several characters enough that we feel we know them. It’s tricky for authors to pull off multiple points of view, but she does it well. Each character has dimension and a distinct voice. Even if I didn’t agree with or particularly like a character, I related to their perspectives.
While each of these characters travels through space, winds up on Paradise 21, and hurtles through space again, they go on their own inward journeys. The book had a good balance between action and character development. Caring about the characters made me invested that much more in their fates. I found myself pulling for Aries and Tiff, even though I wanted Striker to end up with Aries. Their chemistry was undeniable.
Paradise 21 is filled with interesting plot twists. The author is a master at writing action scenes that make me think, Oh no! They’re never getting out of this one!
Aubrie Dionne pulled off a terrific feat. Before I read her work, I was sure I didn’t read Science Fiction. Space Opera, what’s that? Apparently, if you throw a little romance into the mix in a future with space travel and distant planets, I’m hooked.
Paradise 21 is available on Amazon:
and KINDLE .
It's also available at Barnes and Noble .
Visit her blog HERE.