Review of The Nomad: Book One by Debra J. Tillar

I am a fan of space-journey science fiction. Also a fan of strong female protagonists and wry humor. This novel checks all the boxes.

1 time-travel narratives explore the mystery surrounding a large event, while fewer of them explore the mystery of characters’ pasts. In this novel, the hardships of slavery and an off-world setting provide a thought-provoking meditation on the human condition and relationships while conjuring a classic sci-fi atmosphere and incorporating interlocking timelines into a seamless tapestry of space, time, and intimate human interaction. Our focusing lens into this world is a space shooter with smarm, wit, and an attitude of defiance in the face of her oppressors. Much of her intricacies are unraveled through the journal, but we travel with her, experiencing the confusion, frustration, and fear of her situation.

The author’s solid writing style boasts plentiful sentence variety and much vivid imagery. The quick-paced action scenes are balanced by methodical descriptions that go a long way in establishing the setting and tone. The adventure is laced with layers of subtext to strengthen the reading experience. While it is not a straightforward narrative, it is easy to get absorbed in the author’s world building. I can see this being the start of an engrossing series with epic, cinematic scope, unexpected twists, and complex character development. Pretty quickly, it shapes up to be a real page-turner, utilizing some pulp s-f tropes, but to great effect, like hybrids and fictitious companies, extraterrestrial ecology and the science of interplanetary traversal. The science fiction explanations were well done and the info dumping was not a noticeable problem. Overall, it is a well-edited and smoothly readable book. The mature content does not distract but intrigues and entices, alongside well-established conflicts and non-stop tension. One thing I appreciated is the way the author integrates the interior monolog, injecting the narration with the thoughts and emotions of her main character. Doing this while using the third person is an interesting choice but produces a lucid result. It succeeds in giving you the feel of a future society, with its own accompanying ships, planetary landscapes, and eccentric people. The large-scale set pieces are very detailed but never bogged down by digressions.

Strap in for a wild ride. Recommended for all space opera and futuristic adventure fans.

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