by: Jessie Mihalik
Series: Starlight’s Shadow #2
I’ve said many times how much I hate “misunderstandings” in books. And I do. Except when I don’t. This book is riddled with miscommunications and misunderstandings. Both of the main characters – Kee and Varro – make assumptions and choices that lead the other to make their own assumptions.
But. BUT. It works for me here.
Kee is the equipment specialist on Tavi’s crew. She was with her in the war, and is really a electronics genius. She gets them intel, hacking into almost anything. She’s incredibly relatable to me because I can feel the experiences that have shaped her doubts and assumptions. She sets multiple alarms for herself so she can remember to do things, she has to immediately note everything or she’ll forget, she gets absolutely absorbed in her task to the point of ignoring her surroundings and everyone in them. And she’s one-hundred percent all in when she loves someone.
That ‘all-in’ tendency – it’s not always appreciated by partners or potential partners. Kee’s been told and shown over and over again that she’s smothering or moving too fast. So she makes conscious effort to be more deliberate and pull herself in. She feels that this ensures that she doesn’t overstep boundaries that others have set, but it’s also a protective measure to ensure she isn’t devastated by someone she loves.
What I love about her is that once she finally breaks that first, big miscommunication between herself and Varro (and it’s in the first third of the book), Kee makes every effort to think past her own insecurities and pain and talk about what’s going on.
Varro, I had more trouble understanding – initially. But once I did understand why he was careful, I had a lot more sympathy for what this was like for him. First, valoffs are not human. They have their own customs and sometimes … It’s funny to me, because I would say that a vow to protect someone at any cost is typically shown as incredibly romantic in Romance novels. And I still think it is, but here we’re shown the other side of that – the downsides, and consequences.
And how incredibly difficult it can be to accept, understand, and move past those consequences. I like the way that Kee and Varro navigate their growing relationship and develop into a team, partners, not just two people with each other.
Also, can I just say that I love that Kee’s neurodivergency is never treated as a burden to the rest of the team. She’s never admonished to be more “normal.” She’s accepted as she is, with accomodations and care from her team, and mechanisms set in place by herself to ensure that she sustained. She’s loved for her.
I love this book. Which is what usually happens when an author manages to take something I hate and do it well. I’m incredibly excited for book three, Capture the Sun. Especially since I missed Lexi a lot in this book. But also, I sincerely hope that I get more of Eli, et al. Because I’m dying with curiosity.