Review of ‘A Pale Light in the Black’ by K.B. Wagers
This was a solid and enjoyable LGBTQ science fiction book. I’m a big sci-fi fan but have not read as much lately as I would like too. This had the sci-fi space opera feel that I was looking for and I was happy to read this. This reminded me a bit of ‘Firefly’ mixed with ‘Starship Troopers’ with a pinch of ‘Ender’s Game’ thrown in, but without all the bugs and aliens. This is a pure humans-in-space story that is very character-driven.
There are three main characters: a lesbian, a bisexual woman, and an asexual woman. This book is very LGBTQ friendly, taking place in a time where sexuality and gender are just completely accepted. The romances are all light with no explicit sex scenes at all. There is not much more than a few hugs and kisses. I do have to say I was disappointed that Max and Jenks did not get together. They had the most chemistry of anyone and with how they kept growing closer, they would have been perfect for a romance. Instead, they were both paired up with male partners that were a little boring and lackluster. I’m guessing maybe Wagers didn’t want to have two women loving women storylines going on (the other main is a married lesbian), but I think it was a real missed opportunity.
While this really is a book about characters and their relationship with family and friends, it also has a mystery that brings some action to the book, and a big competition. There are games that every military branch competes in and our main characters are trying to win the games for the first time. Everything from sword fighting to piloting, the games are like the World Cup or the Olympics, a really big deal. When our characters are not rescuing people in space, they are training for the games. It was a really fun part of the book between the competition and the military rivalries. My one complaint about this part is I think it was too rushed. The games are so important, that fact is hammered home, that the finale big game day is fast-forwarded too much for my tastes.
While I really enjoyed this read it did have some pacing issues. It takes a little while to really get into the story. Things were a little slow in the beginning and I was getting a little worried, luckily I soon got hooked into the story. However, the pacing issues did continue. The story would slow down and the book at times seemed a little long. I noticed parts I would have personally cut-out, but then like I mentioned about the games, all of a sudden the pace went too fast and I wished it would slow back down. This was not a huge issue at the end of the day, but it was one of the major reasons why this was not more than a 4 star read for me.
If you are looking for an entertaining and lighter sci-fi story, this is a good choice. This is a story that is much more character-driven but still had some good action that kept me entertained. I enjoyed the characters enough that I would absolutely read the next book in the series. The major storylines in this book are complete and this did NOT end in a cliffhanger which is always nice.
An ARC was given to me for an honest review.