3 out of 4 stars
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Golden Skies is a science-fiction adventure novel by Juan Zapata, and it is the first book in the author’s The New Order trilogy.
The story takes place in a world similar to ours, which is controlled by Mujadin, a ruthless despot who happens to be the father of our main character, Malik Zzoha. Mujadin, a religious zealot who hates everyone who doesn’t follow the rules of his reincarnated god, Safad, treats women like second-class citizens and even despises his own son. When Malik is taken to a religious conversion camp to have his body broken and his mind brainwashed, his friend Kafed helps him escape, thus changing the course of their entire lives.
Golden Skies is a multi-faceted tale of revenge, passion for justice, and a coming-of-age story featuring Malik, who learns to realize his own potential as barriers after barriers are placed in front of him. The story itself is fast-paced, and the action is almost non-stop, which is something I enjoy in the books I am reading.
In terms of characters, there were several that I found interesting in the novel. My favorites were, of course, Malik, his best friend Kafed, and his sister Eliza. Kafed was a genius who loved creating unique weapons and enjoyed tinkering with all sorts of gadgets. As the story progressed, Eliza, Malik's beloved sister, became much stronger and more mature than we saw her in the first pages. As for Malik, he did change as well, although I felt that most of the changes took place because of things happening to him rather than him walking the path he actually wanted to follow.
The writing itself was well crafted, the battle scenes were extremely vivid, and the surrounding places were described in great detail. Much to my surprise, I haven’t found a single grammatical or punctuation error in the entire novel. The editing of this book was flawless. However, I found many swear words (at some point, the *f* word was used several times per page), which was slightly unsettling. Everyone was constantly swearing, and this took away from my enjoyment of the book. I understand that these were times of war, and mercenaries were using such language to show their toughness, but I felt the offensive language was extreme.
The science-fiction and fantasy aspects were not the focus of the story, so I would recommend this novel to lovers of fast-paced military action books. However, the foul language and the various scenes involving torture might make it less suitable for the younger ones and for readers who are sensitive to such details. I found several pages difficult to digest and had to rush through them because I am not a fan of torture scenes in books. For these reasons, despite the excellent editing, I give Golden Skies 3 out of 4 stars.
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