Title: The Best of Both Worlds
Author Name & Publisher: Victoria Zagar (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: July 13, 2016
Andrea Missanaugh lives on dystopian Earth’s exploration ship the HAND-5500. Lost in deep space and subjected to the monotony of survival under a regime that still holds the distant ship in its iron grip, Andrea has lost all hope of living a happy life and waits for her silent mental rebellion to be discovered and the inevitable death that will follow.
Then she’s whisked away from the HAND-5500 by two curious aliens from a planet called Evalaque: the President’s daughter, Ledieven, and her gentle partner in crime, doctor and scientist Jacq. Ledieven wants more than friendship, however, with Jacq and Andrea – something that is forbidden on Evalaque, where a fertility crisis has taken hold. Ledieven is one of the last fertile women on Evalaque and her mother will go to great lengths to press her into a socially acceptable marriage.
But Andrea’s done with settling for less.
This book left me with conflicted feelings when I finished. On one hand, we start out with a pretty typical dystopian story. The society in this sci-fi future is oppressive. There is no privacy, and some things point towards thought control, or at least monitoring. It began as a very Orwellian world, reminiscent in some ways of the book 1984. We have our heroine, Amanda, who subtly rebels against authority while trying to stay within the guidelines and not draw undue attention, but inevitably gains the focus she’s tried to escape. Into the story come two aliens, who whisk Amanda away to a life of freedom and love, with the both of them. Unfortunately the world they’ve come from has its own dystopian issues. Their society is dying, and some have become fanatical about trying to save it at any cost. This fanaticism separates the lovers, and forces Amanda to return to her old ship, back in the hands of people she knows will torture and punish and probably execute her. She returns into the midst of a rebellion. Just as we think she’s won, everything gets turned on its head. This is where I finally get to the other hand. I keep trying to find a polite way to say mind (insert expletive), and I still haven’t come up with a way that conveys the idea in strong enough terms. And not only is it one for the readers, but poor Amanda is left questioning everything she’s thought, and felt. There are a lot of existential things to contemplate within Amanda’s dilemma, but unfortunately, she doesn’t have much time to figure things out. With things happening at such an accelerated pace, the ending comes quick and surprisingly enough, happy but with potential problems on the horizon. I’m still reeling from the big reveal, so I’m not sure I liked the book. It was, however, a quick read that engaged me from start to finish. There were things that could have been expanded and plumbed a bit more, or drawn out so it didn’t feel quite so rushed, but at the same time, the pacing is part of what makes the reader reel every bit as much as Amanda does.
I did struggle to read this at the beginning. I almost put it down and didn’t pick it back up, but I decided to give it one more try and I’m glad I did. The beginning of this piece was choppy and didn’t really make any sense to me and I felt no connection to Andrea. That changed about 20% of the way into the book.
I’d share more, but that would probably push this review toward spoilers. The book was good and kept me interested as soon as I got 20% into it. The writing was decent, although there probably could have been one more round of edits in there.
Overall a good read that I’ll probably be thinking about for a while.
Victoria was born in the United Kingdom but emigrated to the United States at age 21. She’s bisexual, non- binary, happily married, and still shouts in a British accent. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania where she spends a lot of time playing and talking about video games, especially Japanese role-playing games.
Besides the Culture Wars series, she is the author of a variety of LGBTQA titles, as well as forthcoming novels The Forbidden Zone (m/m) and The Best Of Both Worlds (f/f/m), contracted with Less Than Three Press. She loves to write about all colors of the rainbow and celebrate love wherever it may be found.