I found about this book on a British website where the reviewer listed it as his favorite book:
But one of the reviewers here said this book was wordy and gave it one star- that made me laugh because I remembered how my mother hated Tolkien because she thought he was too wordy, yet he is one of my favorite writers. To me, that review signaled that it might be my kind of book after all, and it is. I don’t see how anyone could give this book a one star review, because for me, having read through it and through books 2 and 3, this is one of the best series I have ever read. I don’t mind that it leaves you hanging at the end of book one, because as a series, the first book is not supposed to be the end. In fact, I recall the Fellowship of the Ring did the same thing, leaving Frodo somewhere at the beginning of his quest with the Fellowship having just been formed, and some people didn’t like that as an ending, even though I’m not sure why.
Another reviewer here said that the science made him cringe. I don’t agree- I took a year of astrophysics in college and still read new physics books occasionally, although I don’t claim to be a physicist, and I think maybe you’d need to be to be able to properly evaluate the science in the book, sweeping statements aside. But even if there were licenses taken in the book to bend science, the book is science fiction and not a college physics textbook, so I think perhaps there is some room for imagination to diverge from reality.
In any case, I completely agree with the first reviewer who liked the “style and depth of the culture the author sets up… something actually thought-provoking.” To me that is what makes a book enjoyable, and I rarely find it in books these days, which to me have often become trite the more they have become commercialized. Here, I found the flashbacks actually more effective in making one full of longing to find out what happened to the original explorers who were supposed to be immortal, but suffered a gruesome fate, all save one. And I actually think that the flashbacks are reflective of how it really is when you meet someone new, and slowly over time form a picture of what happened to them, while you share experiences in the present, and this is the technique that the author uses to gradually draw out the mysterious Alessia. Meanwhile the characters and situations in the present day Tiasenne simultaneously hold my interest, especially as history starts to repeat itself and one seems to fall prey to the same tragic fate of the original explorers.