3 out of 4 stars
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Avala despises everything about the world she lives in. She hates the sacrificial ceremonies citizens must perform and watch to appease the Yajixa, the gods of her world. She loathes the oppression the females suffer at the hands of the males, and she hates the forced and loveless marriage she must endure. However, once Avala learns that her husband, Alvaj, is human and works undercover for the Earth Intelligence Service to free Avala’s planet from the tyrannical Yajixa, she feels the first inklings of hope for her future.
Alvaj introduces Avala to the Earth Intelligence Service, and she finds out that the Yajixa aren’t actually gods. Over millennia, the Yajixa enslaved innumerable races across the galaxy with their merciless manipulation and dominance. The Earth Intelligence Service intends to stop them, and Avala agrees to work with them to help free her people. Her first mission is to kill the Yajixa responsible for her brother’s death.
When Avala reveals that she has the same power as the Yajixa, the Earth Intelligence Service is thrilled. When she adds that her power inadvertently awakened a long-lost race with god-like powers who allied with her in a quest for freedom, the Earth Intelligence Service claims that she could end the Yajixa domination across the galaxy. Avala must trust her new allies to defeat those that threaten her most.
Hope by Caleb Teal is the first book in the Avala: Spirits of the Mindscapes fantasy series. Messages of equality and fighting for what you believe in fuel the plot of the story. When Avala flees her oppressive home planet, for example, she feels a sense of freedom that she has never experienced before. However, she is not satisfied. She wants all the people of her planet, especially the women, to be free as well.
Part of the story takes place in the mindscape, which is the world inside one’s head. The Yajixa can absorb the souls of other beings into their minds, and they can transfer their consciousness to others. Avala absorbs a vast amount of souls into her mind, and she learns to travel there. In her mindscape, many conflicts and battles ensue. The author explores this fascinating and original concept in detail, creating a dynamic and vivid world within a world.
The author spends quite a bit of time developing and providing background information on the complex worlds, races, and consciousnesses in the story. Though fascinating, it is confusing and difficult to follow at times. It is not a long read, but it is a book you must read carefully because there is so much background information to learn to understand the plot. I had to re-read several parts to ensure that I understood the nuances of the different worlds, mindscapes, and alien races. The index at the end of the story is a good resource for readers who have a difficult time keeping track of the unique characters, places, and more.
One aspect of the story that frustrates me is the lack of character development. Though Avala is a fairly well-developed protagonist, most of the other characters remain static. The characters are unique, fascinating, and in abundance. I wanted to learn more about them and often found them lacking.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a fast-paced and action-packed story. The characters are underdeveloped but interesting, and the plot is incredibly creative and unique. However, some parts of the story are complicated and difficult to follow. For these reasons, I deducted a point. There are some grammatical and editing errors, but not so many that they interfere in the reading. The book includes violence and is quite complicated, so it is more appropriate for teens and adults. I recommend it to lovers of science fiction, especially people who enjoy plots comparable to Inception or The Matrix.
Avala Spirits of the Mindscapes
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