The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernandez Morales is the first book in the Slaves of Zisaida series. It is a character-driven sci-fi story told from the POV of several different characters in two separate timelines. The Okinawa Six timeline follows a military-and-politics-based plot but focuses primarily on the characters as individuals and their personal lives. The Fiona timeline is something of an underdog story, focusing on the cautious but courageous half-human half-alien character Fiona and her interactions with an alien leader known as Kurugar.
There are a lot of characters, and, at first, the sheer number of them can be a little overwhelming, but hang in there because they all have distinct personalities and bring their own spice to the story. My personal favorite was Kurugar, whose slow descent into madness as the story progresses is not only intriguing but also, at times, hilarious. His interactions with Fiona will keep you reading to find out what his plans are for her–and their strained, awkward, and intense relationship is an element in the story you absolutely don’t want to miss.
Personally, I’d figured out the story’s main twist by around the chapter four mark, but not because the story is predictable–I’m just a mass consumer of science fiction and am pretty decent at identifying twists before they happen. Despite this, I kept reading because I was dying to know how it would all come together. The beauty of this book is in the details. There is so much depth and layering between the characters, their backgrounds, and what’s happening. It all weaves together into an intricate tapestry. You won’t be disappointed even if, like me, you have an eye for plot twists.
The writing is clear and easy to read. Albeit a little bit clunky. There was never a time when I felt lost or confused. I happen to know this author is fluent in more than one language, and it’s clear she has a way with words.
If you enjoy sci-fi in the vein of Independence Day, Stargate: SG1, and Battlestar Galactica, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it for lovers of the genre or anyone who enjoys in-depth storytelling with a large cast of characters.
My only problem with it is that sometimes the military and political side of things crosses into the realm of being noticeably unrealistic. If you’re a veteran, or someone who is familiar with how the military functions, you may find yourself rolling your eyes on occasion. But, overall, I wouldn’t say it merited a lower rating because of it, and it certainly didn’t ruin an otherwise great story.
The Last Guardian by J.S. Fernandez Morales is the second book in the Slaves of Zisaida series and continues the story of Fiona and Kurugar, with occasional appearances from Monica, Bill, and others from the Okinawa Six timeline from the first book.
If you enjoyed the first one, get ready, because this one is even better.
While the first book was very military-forward, this one takes you on a quest to the South Pole to find an ancient power lying in wait. Along the way you’ll be thrown into alien battles, discover the truth about Kurugar’s heritage, and be teased by a compelling slow-burn romance that will leave you both intrigued and maybe a little horrified.
Kurugar is an anti-hero you simply don’t want to miss. His antics are entertaining, scary, but also thoughtful and will make you wonder if a flesh-eating, cannibalistic, murdering beast can be redeemed. His interactions with Fiona border the sweet despite their clashing personalities, and the two of them form a dynamic team that carries the entire plot.
That said, this book is very character-driven. The plot is your usual sci-fi fare with some fantasy elements thrown in (think Star Wars). Not that it isn’t interesting! But it’s the characters who are going to keep you turning those pages. The larger than life cast is varied, each member with their own unique perspective and something interesting to bring to the table. Often while reading books with multiple POVs, I find myself not liking some of them and wanting to skip chapters, but (with the exception of maybe Ralph), I enjoyed reading about all the characters in this book.
No spoilers, but I actually really loved Kalla, and thought he served as a charming juxtaposition to the other hardened, angry, battle-ready characters. Although he’s painted as being something of a coward, I just wanted to give him a big hug. I think he was a good addition to the cast, (although he was introduced in the first book, he seemed fairly invisible until his re-introduction here).
Some of the loose ends from the first book are tied up in this one, but there’s plenty more left over for what I am sure will be a fantastic conclusion to the series with the third.