Series: Atrophy #5
Published by Entangled Publishing: Amara on 22nd March 2021
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Rian Sherron is a lot of things. Captain of the spaceship Imojenna. Ex-war hero. Ex-assassin. For years, he's traveled from one end of the galaxy to the other, both trying to escape his demons and get revenge on the shape-shifting aliens responsible for his slow demise into hell.
That all changed the day Rian rescued an Arynian priestess from slave traders. Ella Kinton is everything Rian both fears and admires. Ella is everything he never let himself admit he wanted. Together, they must face a harrowing choice—come together and defeat Reidar, or fall apart, leaving the universe in total chaos.
As much as I’ve been following Jess Anastasi’s Atrophy series, ‘The Final Dawn’ is far from a standalone and having read the previous Atrophy books a long time ago, catching up without having a re-read of the previous instalments is in itself an uphill climb.
That it’s the final book in the series and a sudden change in direction of the whole arc that finally focuses on Rian and Ella make it a boon, though what I hadn’t expected to hit me at first was frustration: at not remembering the whole chunk of details—essentially a very complicated world-building truckload of history—while trying to understand what’s really going on.
If I’d thought that Rian/Ella’s story was going to be a straightforward one, Anastasi reminds us that the waters had been muddied a few books ago and continue to get more and more tangled as time goes on. Their history is more than a mouthful to recap, except that it takes a bit of a turn for the weird with lots of mental/psychic movement and a ‘threesome’ (psychic!) bonding—sex on some kind of astral plane, anyone?—when for quite a bit of the book, Rian and Ella spend it physically separated.
Then again, ‘The Final Dawn’ is written in the spirit of amalgamating the well-known tropes of the super-hero/syfy shows in the last decade or so, with switches in POVs and non-stop action that juggles multiple sub-plots quite deftly. It isn’t solely a focused syfy-romance but more of a team-dynamic-focused one that zips from one place to another at the speed of light as Anastasi’s characters twist their way around fighting the bad guys and struggle to recognise the good ones.
It’s top-entertainment value—definitely so, if syfy-adventure is your thing—and the easier it is to get into the story the further on you go, if that’s the only investment to make as you push past the first few chapters to reorientate. I had personally hoped for something a little less complicated for Rian/Ella which didn’t have to take so merry rounds around the galaxy for them to come together, but the higher the stakes get, the greater the reward. Essentially, ‘The Final Dawn’ is one to go for only when you’re deep into the world of Atrophy; anything else and its impact wouldn’t be felt that much.