REFUGE Review from ObsessedWallflower

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Refuge | Book Review

Thank you, J. J. Blacklocke for sending me the eARC of Refuge through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

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Refuge is the first book in The Tradepoint Saga, a sci-fi series set in a space station called Tradepoint. In this first book, we follow the Vennans, an alien race that’s gone to Tradepoint to trade their goods with other beings and celebrate the anniversary of when they first made the trip to the space station. But when Gredin, a young Vennan translator that’s helping with the celebrations, receives a message from the Power that their entire planet no longer exists, it’s up to her to help her entire delegation with this horrible future.

I’m going to start by saying that, if you’re expecting space fights and explosions and a lot of action, you’re not going to get it. This is a very political character-focused story, and you’re mostly following Gredin’s struggles when coming to terms with the knowledge that’s given to her and making people believe it. That said, I adore political stories so I really enjoyed this book.

Blacklocke did a fantastic job on fleshing out all the different alien beings, even when they were just side characters to enrich this world. The main characters we follow also feel like real people, with beliefs and motivations, and I loved to see how the different races interacted with each other, especially the Vennans and the Prett (the hosts of this space station). The Vennan culture was what fascinated me the most. How their society is divided into different houses and how each Vennan has a specific ability that places them in this world. I would’ve liked a bit more backstory on how they come into these abilities, but I believe there’s a prequel eBook available on J. J. Blacklocke’s website that I expect touches upon those aspects of their culture.

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I thought its pacing was a bit off at times. It is a fairly long book but, because it’s really political based, there’s not much going on for a lot of it. That made me feel like the plot dragged on in parts but I wished it would’ve been more developed in others. Specifically how Gredin goes from a grief-stricken kid to the saviour of these people. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but how this happens isn’t really explained and it’s one of my biggest pet-peeves with books when something happens and you just have to accept it and move on.

The writing was what made me really enjoy this book. We’re thrust upon a different world, with a variety of people that are completely different from one another and, even when I was still a bit lost as to how everything works, I was already sucked into the plot. The writing is effortless and you come to know the world as things happen. I realise that’s not some people’s preferred method of world-building as yes, you’re quite confused for a while, but I personally really enjoyed how it was done.

Overall I gave this book a 3.75/5 ⭐️. I was fully immersed in the story and got through it fairly quickly, considering its size. I would’ve liked more explanation on some things and there were some characters that I absolutely loved and wished they were more prominent in the story, but overall I had a great time with this book and would love to read the following books in this series. Based on how Refuge ended, I feel like the next instalments will be even more exciting.

If you’re interested in a political thriller set in space, Refuge just came out on November 10th, so you can pick it up now. And if you love it, Aftershock and The Bereft (books two and three of The Tradepoint Saga) come out in January and April, so not long at all to wait.