A stand-alone science fiction book. Or science fantasy if you consider (very powerful) psionics to be fantasy. Part of the Women in SF bundle I bought last year.

Publication year: 2015
Format: ebook
Page count: 436
Publisher: Book View Café

Nevermore is a planet with a mysterious past: it has history dating back thousands of years but very little of it has been recorded. The current nomadic tribes don’t know much about their past and no statues have been found. It’s an ideal and frustrating place for passionate archeologists, such as the Nasirs.

Aisha and Jamal are the children of the current lead archeologists on Nevermore. The kids love their freedom to ride and roam around. However, even they have heard that it’s increasingly hard to get funding for the work and Aisha has decided to help her parents. She just knows that a nearby cliff, which has a mysterious chamber in it, has all the answers and a wealth of artifacts. So, when the parents are away from the planet (begging for the next round of grants) the 12-year-old girl steals some explosives and blows it up. Unfortunately, no treasure trove of past is revealed. The place is mostly destroyed and a strange man approaches the kids. The man seems to be a native (almost human) but he has no memory of where he comes from or about anything else. He also seems to be sick. Aisha brings him home and she and her aunt Khalida nurse him back to health. By the time the parents return, it seems that the mystery man, dubbed Rama, is a part of the household.

Khalida Nasir is a recovering Military Intelligence agent. She was deeply scarred by the things she had to do for the MI and is on extended leave. She was born a psionic but refused to join the Psycorps, so they ‘neutered’ her: supposedly they cut out her psionic talents. But she still has them; they haunt her in addition to the nightmares of her past duty. When the kids return with a man whom they all start calling Rama, she becomes very interested in him. (But not romantically: she’s a lesbian.)

Soon, Aisha, Khalida, and Rama are off planet and hunted by the Psycorps.

In this world when during a child’s thirteenth birthday, a Psycorps officer is sent to test the child to see if he or she had the psionic talent. If they have, they can choose to either join Psycorps or have their talent cut out (neutered). Aisha has the talent but she doesn’t want to join Psycorps so she’s really scared about meeting the officer, which happens early in the book. Psi is a big part of the world and the humans. Psi is also the link between science and magic, blending both.

The book has complex politics where the government and its organizations are the bad guys. Khalida and Aisha are the two POV characters and they’re pretty different from each other. The world-building is detailed. Khalida and Aisha and their family are from Egypt and so they’re not white (which is great because it’s different from the majority of SF).

The start is a bit slow but when things start to happen, they do so quickly. In addition to adventure, the story focuses on family and friendships rather than romantic relationships. Aisha lives in a loving family and she does the the craziest stunts because she wants to help them but doesn’t think things through (because she’s 13).

For some reason I didn’t click with the writing style as much as I did with the previous (and only) Tarr book I’ve read. I liked the book a lot, though.