The Operation Awesome theme for the #atozchallenge 2021 is book reviews (even though we're a blog about the publication journey, not a book review blog-- the team loves to read!). I've selected books by Debut Authors.
Xodus (Astralis #1) (Souls Untethered Saga #1) / This book has been rebranded as Souls Untethered. Souls Untethered (The Souls Untethered Saga Book 1)
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou
That quote is appropriate for this book, in my opinion. This was a good book that was full of suspense, a strong family core, a tiny splash of romance (heat level= one simple kiss), and Astral projection (which is fantasy, sci-fi, speculative fiction, or real-- depending on who you ask). It's YA because the main character turns 16 at the opening of the book. I do enjoy reading YA and urban fantasy, both categories of which this book falls into. The book is well-edited.
Several forms of Astral projection are used in this book, including teleportation, telepathy, time-travel, and mind-reading. There's a reason for this expanded version of Astral projection. That might make the book more or less interesting, depending on your feelings about the expanded definition. I imagine the rebranded title, "Souls Untethered," is related to Astral projection. In the older version of the book I have "Xodus (Astralis #1)" -- the word "soul" is never used in place of Astral projection (spirit-moving-out-of-the-body is mentioned once), and the word "untethered" isn't in the book. Xodus, however, is used in the book. (And if you enjoy word games, you'll figure out one meaning before the story even opens!) I got a free copy of this book years ago. This is my honest and unbiased review.
There are some funny scenes. For example, there's banter between the five siblings:
"Thank you, Captain Obvious."
"I'd say she's more of a Petty Officer Obvious," Ulyxses mused. He, Dixon, and Oxanna cackled. Salaxia gave them her meanest stare, which was about as intimidating as a pouncing kitten.
I was eager to read to the end to find out if the two objectives of two of the main characters would be reached. One was. I supposed if I want to find out about the other, I'd need to read the next book in the series!
There is a happily-ever-after ending for the most part. It's an entertaining read. As for diversity:
Five main characters are described as having deep olive skin, raven hair, and crystal gray eyes. Another main character has black hair, russet or tan or tawny skin, and emerald eyes. And another has ivory skin. There is mention of "skin-toned" make-up, but I'm not sure what that looks like.
The book cover I have has a female silhouette cut from a dark blue night sky over the San Fransico Golden Gate Bridge, and the green thing that she searches for among the stars. It makes perfect sense when reading the novel. The cover I currently see for sale has the bridge in the background with someone that looks much like the main character, and I guess she's holding a stone from the story, though it looks more like an orb. That cover looks more like a slightly altered stock cover.
Trigger warning, there are kidnapping scenes in this book. Both turn out okay in the end, but it might upset some readers.
Something that bothered me was the school is a one-story brick building. It has stairs. History class is upstairs. This implies at least two stories.
Though I enjoyed the characters, I can't say I especially related to any of them. They didn't especially remind me of anyone, except perhaps for Jessica (a minor character). I enjoyed that there was a pronunciation guide at the opening of the book. I also liked that the dad gave dinosaur-inspired nicknames to the five children. The setting in the middle of nowhere with lots of cows, I've lived there (different state, but still).
What is your favorite Operation Awesome feature?