I received this book for free from the publisher.
This did not affect my opinion or the content of this review.
She’s a revolutionary. Humanity is running out of options. Habitable planets are being destroyed as quickly as they’re found and Naira Sharp thinks she knows the reason why. The all-powerful Mercator family has been controlling the exploration of the universe for decades, and exploiting any materials they find along the way under the guise of helping humanity’s expansion. But Naira knows the truth, and she plans to bring the whole family down from the inside.
He’s the heir to the dynasty. Tarquin Mercator never wanted to run a galaxy-spanning business empire. He just wanted to study rocks and read books. But Tarquin’s father has tasked him with monitoring the settlement of a new planet, and he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.
Disguised as Tarquin’s new bodyguard, Naira plans to destroy the settlement ship before they make land. But neither of them expects to end up stranded on a dead planet. To survive and keep her secret, Naira will have to join forces with the man she’s sworn to hate. And together they will uncover a plot that’s bigger than both of them.
I’m a huge fan of Megan E. O’Keefe‘s Protectorate trilogy and couldn’t have been more excited about her new space opera. The expectations were high for sure, and while The Blighted Stars turned out to give off a very different kind of vibe, it was all that I hoped for and more. It’s “just” another typical space adventure as I know and love them from O’Keefe, full of amazing plots twists and easy to like characters.
Absurd, that humanity should fall to such a fragil species. But then, humanity had always had a knack for underestimating those with subtle strengths.
The Blighted Stars probably came out at the perfect time, when everyone and their grandma is all over the hit show The Last Of Us. I would say if you like one, definitely try the other. While The Last of Us heavily leans into the zombie theme though, The Blighted Stars is quite different and also so, so much worse in its threat. The mind fuckery is strong in this one and I loved it, so damn much.
At the core of the world building is the technology to map yourself and print a body to load that map into which is both a cool concept but also somewhat scary in the sense what it can do if the map gets in the wrong hands. What I liked most about it though is how O’Keefe included what should be a given when body modification is so easily available: a trans (main) character and zero transphobia. I especially loved how casually it was included and not made a big deal because it really shouldn’t be.
An additional kind of mind fuck is reading a book that seems a little too close for comfort at times to our very own situation when depicting people in power destroying planets with their greed. While the threat turns out to be much bigger and quite different than one is to believed at first, you can’t help but think of certain real life parallels when reading this. Be prepared to get angry.
The Blighted Stars also comes with a bit of a romance and I loved the dynamic between the two characters. Not just that the “enemies to lovers” is done very well but my favorite part is how the immense power imbalance between the two was handled. This could have easily turned into super problematic territory but it never did.
Wild conspiracy theories, plot twists galore and unexpected twists and turns is what we know from Megan E. O’Keefe‘s previous scifi trilogy, and I was more than happy to see this series start to follow along the same lines.