On a routine mission off base following up on a tip about rebel activity, Mikhael Doss is kidnapped seconds away from beaming off the planet. He doesn’t know why or how, but he knows without a doubt that his team will be searching for him. Sawyer Way is not only his team leader, but his best friend. He’s also the man that Mikhael has been in love with for years. Mikhael is traded to the race of people that destroyed his home world and is experimented upon. He never completely loses hope though, because he knows that Sawyer will come for him.
Sawyer will not rest until he gets Mikhael back. He pushes himself, and his team, past the point of exhaustion. He only stops looking when he’s ordered to by his commanding officer. But as soon as he can, he’s back out there looking. For a month, they have no solid leads. Then a chance mission puts him right in Mikhael’s path. The team rushes Mikhael back to base. But Sawyer’s elation is soon dashed when they discover that Mikhael is dying. He contracted a mutated form of a disease, and now he has perhaps six weeks to live. Sawyer can’t face it, and he runs.
Mikhael holds out hope. He wants Sawyer to come to him, but for two weeks, Sawyer does whatever he can to avoid the loss he knows is coming. When the two men finally talk, after Sawyer gets a firm talking to from one of the other team members, they confess the truth: they’ve each been in love with the other for years but have never said anything for fear of ruining their friendship. But now the confession may have come too late. There is no cure, and Mikhael’s fate is sealed.
This is a really tough one for me to review. It had some really good moments, but overall, I have to be honest, I found it lacking. It had the set up for some really spectacular world building, but didn’t quite follow through. I found myself filling in the missing bits and assuming things based on my own knowledge of sci fi worlds that are out there. Though I liked the mix of contemporary and sci fi that the author managed to bring to the table, I needed a bit more to really get invested in the world and the story.
Where this author did a really good job was with the two main characters. I really got a feel for and a good understanding of Mikhael and Sawyer. The characters were distinct and well rounded. These two guys have been friends for years, but their affections run deeper than the other knows. I love the way these guys interacted with each other and their love for each other was very clear. And even though I was angry with Sawyer when he runs from his best friend, the man he loves, I understood his actions. Having just gotten Mikhael back, being faced with his imminent death is too overwhelming. I cheered when he finally got his act together. And their reunion was wonderful and heartfelt.
I have to admit though, that I had a bit of a problem with the narrative. There are a copious amount of flashbacks as a way for us to understand the connection that Mikhael and Sawyer have. While several of them were poignant and added to the story, I personally found them a bit tedious after a while. With the urgency of searching for Mikhael, some of these dips into the past slowed down the pace for me. The story is also told in alternating first person POV. While there are clear demarcations at the beginning of each section as to whose head we’re in, and the characters were distinct enough that I mostly knew who was speaking, there were a couple of instances where I forgot who was the narrator of the moment and I got confused.
I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but I have to say I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it was very fitting for the story and I’m glad that Bain-Vrba chose to end it that way. On the other hand, I didn’t feel enough of a connection to the characters that it completely worked for me either.
This story had a lot of potential, but in the end, it veered slightly off the mark for me. I liked it, and there were some really great aspects. But overall, I had a few too many issues with it for it to completely work for me.