Book Information: Stellar Instinct by Jonathan Nevair
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller, Spy-Fi
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: December 1, 2022
Publisher: Cantinool Books (Self Published)
A secret agent. A gaming mastermind. Two players in a dangerous competition blurring the boundaries of entertainment and reality.
Mysterious signals pulse from an icy planet in a remote star system. GAM-OPs wants answers. Enter Lilline Renault, secret agent extraordinaire. To ordinary citizens she’s Keely Larkin, an adventure company guide with a flair for the daring and a penchant for writing trite poetry. Lilline’s at the top of the spy game, but publishing her literary work is proving harder than saving the galaxy.
When the mission uncovers a dastardly plan threatening billions of lives, Lilline leaps into action. Verses flow as she rockets through space, dons cunning disguises, and infiltrates enemy territory with an arsenal of secret gadgets. But to prevent the whims of a self-obsessed entrepreneur from turning the galaxy into a deadly playground means beating him at his own game. Lilline will need her best weapon to stand a fighting chance: her instinct.
While investigating on the arctic planet, Frebu, secret agent Lilline Renault encounters a mysterious being that tries to “feed” on her thoughts. This thoughtform seems to be connected to strange events that have happened across the galaxy, including a billionaire game designer and possibly to a GAM-OPs mission from many cycles ago, when Lilline’s grandmother worked as an agent. Lilline has to work quickly to connect the dots in these missions, and maybe get her poetry published along the way.
Lilline Renault is a smart, no-nonsense GAM-OPs agent who relies on her vast experience and instinct to complete missions. She has faced some of the most fearsome beings in the galaxy and saved countless people, and her travels/work often serve as inspiration for her other love: poetry. Lilline is kind, witty and honest; she’s a character that readers will find it easy to root for. I really appreciated Lilline as a character not only because she trusted herself and her abilities, but because she encouraged other characters to succeed, as well. Lilli’s interactions with Pin were wonderful and I loved seeing two characters interact in such a fun and positive way.
Kissy, Lilline’s retired agent grandmother, is a capable, sarcastic character with a relatively unknown past. She provides levity throughout the story and I loved that she became a bigger part of the story later on. I did think that the earlier scenes where Kissy is portrayed at her retirement home were a little corny, but I didn’t find them off putting by any means. and think it was just an attempt to portray some of the zaniness of Kissy’s personality. I appreciated the character arc and how her story has the potential to be developed in the future (this is me asking for more books about Lilli and Kissy).
Beyond the Renaults, we are introduced to a wide range of characters, species, and planets. While the pace of the book is very quick, the descriptions and world building worked perfectly for me. I was easily able to picture the settings and thought that the detail provided on nature and technology was great. Nevair does a great job at keeping readers guessing and engaged. The different characters/species all had unique characteristics, but couldn’t be easily designated as “heroes or villains” within the story because of these traits. As a reader, you’re never totally sure which characters you can trust and I found that to be a lot of fun and it helped me to appreciate some of the characters more.
Stellar Instinct is a short book, but it is so effective in how it handles the storyline. There aren’t any dull moments, but the pace does change appropriately throughout giving the reader “time to breathe.” The use of augmented/virtual realities and gaming within the plot was really interesting to me and I thought it was a really creative way to show how a villain can gain a following and become powerful. I also really enjoyed Nevair’s occasional use of second person narrative to portray the AR and Astral Mind and the way it becomes part of a person. It helped me to feel like I was involved in the story and gave me a better understanding of what the villain was trying to do.
While I don’t read too many books in the sci-fi genre, I found that I became quickly absorbed in Stellar Instinct. This is a really fun, character-driven novel, with plenty of twists to keep you guessing. I would love to read another book (or many!) within this universe or follow Lilline through another mission to save the galaxy! Highly recommend this book to my fellow readers!
Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader):
- Blood and gore
- Animal violence
Alluded to (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at):
- Self harm
THANK YOU TO ESCAPIST BOOK TOURS AND JONATHAN NEVAIR FOR THE ARC AND FOR ALLOWING ME TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS BOOK TOUR OF STELLAR INSTINCT!
Pick up your copy of Stellar Instinct by Jonathan Nevair today!
Stellar Instinct a book by Jonathan Nevair (bookshop.org)
Amazon.com: Stellar Instinct: A Spy-fi Space Thriller: 9798985855579: Nevair, Jonathan: Books
Jonathan Nevair (he/him/his) is a speculative fiction author and, as Dr. Jonathan Wallis, an art historian and Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. After two decades of academic teaching and publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction. Jonathan’s books explore secondary worlds where language, culture, ethics, technology, and gender are reimagined to inspire human potential and growth (think of it as space opera sprinkled with a dash of Hopepunk.)
Jonathan lives in southeastern PA with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. When not writing and teaching, he spends his time chasing his dog through the woods and hoping he’ll be able to walk in space before he croaks.