Book Review: Luminous by A.E. Ash

The time and place

Planet Hestia (as named by our protagonist), a world that could be colonized by humans. I assume it’s our future because “Terran Standard Years” and Earth are mentioned.

The suspension of disbelief

Humanity has traveled into space and set up colonies/space stations. When stars fall, they hear voices and experience life for a moment before they die.

The quick summary

Jyothi Agarwal left her love behind to work on a research team out in space, feeling she could help out humanity. The team determined the proto-colony was habitable, but war broke out before further preparations could be made. The others on the team returned home for war, taking their ship with them, and they haven’t reported back. She’s been alone on the station for nine years, making daily logs and surveying the land. One day, during her terrain survey, she finds an injured man on the barren planet. Where did he come from and what shall she do with him?

My squees

Older people with older bodies find love, too. They don’t cease to love uncomfortably, to be free of sharp, ugly feelings. This is the first love story I can remember reading with a sixty-plus year old human as a protagonist. Jyothi is something of a paragon and has most of her act together by her age. When her age becomes an issue for her, Ash resolves this in a way that I appreciated because it wasn’t the glamorous ending.

The writing felt gentle, the prose almost Impressionist: even scientific reports, first aid, cargo bays, and speeders became muted and softened. The story gave me a hug. Loneliness is a powerful theme for me. Most of the books I’ve read that touched me in the amygdala reference loneliness and how we cope with it. I bawled for a while afterwards because Luminous made me feel things that swept me in with the tide.

My grumbles

Well, how a fallen star becomes a dude and can speak a language is something I still struggle with in my primitive hume brain. I had to tell my logic circuits to suspend the disbelief pretty often. The back filler took up many ‘pages’ on my ereader- 25% of the content. I wanted to know more about the author and book, but it felt like padding in the format.

Read if you

  • Want to explore ideas concerning isolation and loneliness
  • Are in the mood for a mythic tale
  • Believe senior citizens and the stars are beautiful

Skip if you

  • Are looking for hot erotic romance
  • Require rigorous science in your science fiction
  • Don’t like short stories

Final thoughts

This is a quick read. It made me feel warm and hopeful inside. Possibly also luminous. I shall reread it whenever I want to evoke that mood. The cover, which I like for its subtlety and resonance with the story, is by Yasmin Khudari.

Author site:

Resources: The Book Smugglers / Read for free at publisher site / Goodreads / Kindle US / Kindle UK / Kobo / Google Play / Smashwords / B&N / iBooks

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