Well, I’ve gone and done something I didn’t intend to do. I really wanted to avoid getting caught up in a new series of books before I finished off all the ones I’ve left unfinished, but inadvertently after purchasing Stealing Light via the Kindle Daily Deal, I started a new series without realizing it. I’m usually on top of knowing if the book I’m reading is part of a trilogy or big series, but for whatever reason I had firmly in my mind that Stealing Light was a standalone science fiction novel. Not so, my friends.
As a matter of fact, Stealing Light is the first book in the four volume Shoal Sequence, a series that I’ll admit is not very close to the top of the list of unfinished series I’m going to finish first. I truly didn’t intend to start a new series, but it happened, and now I can’t wait to finish.
While reading Stealing Light, the thing that stood out to me the most was the pacing. Some authors are great at pacing, some are not, and Gary Gibson is definitely one of the ones who is great at it. I really didn’t know what to expect with this book as I’ve never read a book by the author before, heck, I’d never even heard of these books before. Because of that I figured I would probably read some, put it down, read some more, and it would take me a few days, maybe a week to reach the end. Instead I read the entire thin in about 48 hours, which isn’t common with my real-life schedule these days. The action just continued to move, never stopping to take a break. I felt that if I put down my Kindle I was going to be missing out on an important piece of the action because there was no way the story could just sit around and wait for me to come back.
That kind of thing is rare, but this book has it, at least for me.
The lead protagonist character, Dakota Merrick, was wonderfully developed and had a lot of depth you don’t often see from a female lead in science fiction. She had an air of mystery about her, but also a sense of urgency and intensity. It was a lot of fun to watch her grow as the book went on and to see how she adjusted to the constant twists and turns of the plot when they were thrown at her. Dakota really came alive off the page for me while I was reading, another thing that doesn’t always happen with books.
There is a history of civilization being built during this book as well. Humanity has spread to the stars, but only to a limited point because an alien species known as the Shoal have the only faster than light technology and won’t take them any further. But what exactly are the Shoal hiding? Throughout the book Dakota begins to unravel the mystery behind the Shoal and why they won’t allow humanity past a certain point in the cosmos. Unfortunately, while doing so she also uncovers a terrible secret left behind by an even more vast and powerful race, a secret she is ultimately going to need to act upon that may well change the fate of everyone, everywhere.
So much of this book speaks to outstanding world-building and craftsmanship by the author. I felt like I was really escaping into a book for the first time in a very long time after reading so many random things here and there. Stealing Light really makes me want to swing my reading all the way back to the space opera type books of my teenage years so I can find that escape a little more often than I am now.
I say if you enjoy well-written science fiction and are looking for something to take you along for a ride, give Stealing Light a chance. I did on accident and now I’m never looking back. I can’t wait to find time for the next three books.