This is a good Sci-Fi/UF 'What if' story.
What if the previous generations who came before us on earth were such an advanced civilization that they were able to travel to the stars and establish themselves on other worlds? What if some of those previous generations were at war with each other about how to handle government and colonization? What if an autocratic class-based society was set on taking over the mother world and there was a group hiding in plain sight on earth and in the stars determined to thwart them?
In the middle of all this epic stuff, oblivious and ignorant, one unemployed daughter of hippies and government conspiracy freaks, stumbles into it all when she decided that she must turn over a new leaf. Rae decides she needs to get fit and find a job. Out at 0'dark thirty in the morning, she stumbles over a body from which blue firefly like things come out, chase her down, and burrow under her skin. Her trip and fall is witnessed by a park ranger. Later another trip and fall is witnessed by the new handsome latino looking guy, Victor, who has moved into her complex. She doesn't feel so good from the falls and finding the body so Rae groggily directs Victor to drop her off to feed Vivian's cat.
No sooner does she enter Vivian's apartment then everything changes. She is captured by that innocent looking park ranger, informed that she is going to be killed for teaming up with the intergalactic bad guys, and then jolted out of her blissful ignorance of what all she has been missing. Her captor is in reality a military spec ops officer for the organization sworn to protect earth and he thinks she is working with Victor to bring it all down. The other big news that he gives her is the knowledge that those little blue fireflies that stung her earlier were actually some sort of ancient organisms that had bored into her body and were even now syncing up with her with the kicker that they contained hidden codes that every power in the galaxy was eager to get their hands on. Rae was now the hot item that everyone would be after. Tobias then gives her the option of working as his partner in the task of helping aliens and refugees adjust to settling on earth and thwarting the bad guys plans.
I loved the plot line and how it is first person so the reader is learning along side Rae. It also leaves the other players in the story somewhat of a mystery which is good because there is always that element of who can she really trust. And that is the crux of the plot. Who to trust? Someone has infiltrated the United Earth Defense and what about Victor the mercenary? And what happened to cause that botched alien landing where the guy with all the stolen info got killed? Not being able to trust even their own people and being chased by the bad guys has Tobias and Rae on the run. Its all very exciting.
The pacing was a little troubling a few times. I think I am like Rae in some ways in that I lost a little interest when we got to all the tech details. The book explains a great deal about the world building behind the story, the gadgets and gizmos, and what its like to interface with the CBs (little blue fireflies). I found that the pace bogged down a few times because of it. The scene in the hidden base when Rae must eat to build up her strength when using her CBs drains her goes on quite a long time about all the food she consumed. I would have been good with a brief explanation that she needed to feed and then a fade out to a pile of plates and glasses.
I was also getting a little bugged by Rae's limited vocabulary of expletives. I think the amount of times 'crap on a cracker', 'praise Buddha' and 'Son of a monkey butt' occurred numbered in the high double digits. It was cute and fun at first, but not so much by the end of the book.
The relationships in the story are interesting. There is instant attraction between Rae and Victor and he has this whole 'I've got to kill you and take the information, but I'll regret it a little' thing about him. Rae and Tobias start out very prickly. Here we have more of her limited vocabulary. She calls him 'douche' so many times that the man probably thinks its his name. Slowly through trial by fire, they grow into a good partnership. He still tries to protect her and boss her around, but she shows that she can contribute to their efforts.
That leads me to the characters. Rae is the main character and she is well written. I liked how she is a pretty normal gal taken way out of her element. She's got a good steel backbone and even death threats only tick her off. Victor is enigmatic with his whole dark angel thing going on. He basically works for whoever pays him and has no moral compunctions even though he is not into senseless violence or hate. He even seems to have a thing for Rae. Tobias starts out as a straight as an arrow military guy. He is carrying around a boatload of guilt for the failure of his last mission when his weak partner got the whole team slaughtered. At first command tells him to eliminate Rae which he would have done (orders are orders), but then they make her his new partner. Later Tobias, starts to question orders and information that are coming down chain of command and refuses to follow through on the order to kill Rae when the alien arrival and landing mission is compromised. He is a strong leader and team player. Though he did not act on it, he too has a thing for Rae.
As to the rest of the characters, they had fairly small roles with longer peeks at Tobias' team. The villain was truly sadistic and evil. Oh mama was I glad to see her get hers.
The main threat is dealt with by the end of this story, but there are a few smaller threads that leave it open for a series. This book was enjoyable and I hope that the coming books only improve in pacing and action now that the world building is established. I'm pretty interested in seeing what happens next with Rae, Tobias, their team and new alien refugees, and the enigmatic Victor.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)