Cover Image: A Pale Light in the Black

A Pale Light in the Black

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Member Reviews

This was a super slow start for me, but then suddenly I was in it, and BAM I had to finish it. I'm really into the world that's built here; I appreciate that the action isn't TOO actiony, and the setting isn't WAR. (Also I'm kind of sold on the Olympics-esque games here.) Oh, and also kudos to the interesting and realistic romance subplots running through the book, with various characters in various situations. Looking forward to book 2, and def gonna go back and read earlier books (in a different world) by this author.
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This book drew me in from the start and kept me interested, The idea of a space Coast Guard first grabbed my attention and the diversity in relationships was lovely to see. Overall I was impressed by this book and look forward to the next one!
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This book kept me reading even though there were a few points where I almost gave it up. The space Coast Guard idea is intriguing and I enjoyed the action sequences and the world-building. The relationships between the characters were believable and touching. There was a lot of diversity in this story, romantic diversity such as a lesbian couple and an asexual (ace) character, racial diversity, and plenty of strong women characters with skills in combat. There was a mystery to solve, lots of family relationship problems to work out, and even a combat tournament to let you root for the team. Overall I enjoyed it, and I would probably enjoy reading the next one.
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Wow! I already love the Indranan War books. Fun to see the author's vision of events much closer to home.
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I mean the main thing I liked about this book was the LGBTQ rep. Definitely one of the most diverse sci-fi novels I've read lately and that is quite refreshing. I see a lot of other people pointing out similarities to Ender's Game and I have to agree with that. That said, the book still retains a healthy amount of originality which keeps it from just seeming cookie cutter.
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Competitive games in space? Family drama? A century of corporate espionage? Sign me up.

Listen, this has a SLOW first half. Difficult to get through as all characters have names, ranks, and nicknames, and it got a little confusing. And we bounce around a lot of POVs, even within chapters. I would have liked more background on the games. This felt uneven at times and abrupt at the end.

But so many amazing, diverse ladies and non-binary folks!  And exciting, fun space adventures.
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I was fortunate to get a review copy but didn't get around to reviewing it quickly. So far I have read and loved every other book by Wagers but the description in this one made me a little unsure. I had nothing to worry about as I loved this one too. The story was interesting but it was the characters and the relationship building that really makes this a good book. I also really enjoyed the competition parts of the book. I will definitely read the next in this series.
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I really enjoyed reading this book, it took what I enjoyed about the scifi genre and made it something new. I look forward to more from the author.
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DNF for several complicated reasons, which I'll go into, most of which have nothing to do with the book itself.

So, for whatever reason, I am just not feeling the space opera right now, and even I can't explain why I thought reading four of them in a row (and overlapping) would help that, but here we are. It has very probably colored my feelings about the book, so take this with a grain of salt.

Things I liked - the way the book acknowledges the existence of people other than straight white heterosexuals, the way the crew bond like a family, and the originality of focusing on what I've seen described as the Coast Guard in space.

What didn't work as well for me - the writing style. It felt a little choppy, which kept me from picking the book up and really committing to it until long past when I should have finished it. It also felt a little derivative. Now, that might be just what some people are looking for - a book that definitely knows what it is and fits its genre like jello in a mold.. But for me, it just made it hard to concentrate on.

So, I think this one has a broad appeal to both hardcore and mainstream sci-fi readers, it just wasn't hitting the spot for me at this moment.
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This is a fun book with a lot of great sci-fi, mystery, and kick-ass action. It gets off to a bit of a rough start but the characters kept me invested. Solid world-building, too. This was my first experience reading K.B. Wagers and I look forward to more books by this author.
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I almost docked a star for a particularly eye-roll-worthy villain but then I had to consider how much I enjoyed this book as a whole. Space opera is definitely one of my favorite sub-genres because it combines the sense of adventure with found family and comingled cultures and extreme diversity (even if there are no aliens this time around). Plus I love seeing how each author approaches the many challenges that space travel presents. The other factor to this book is that it's technically military scifi (which is a sub-genre that I've been admittedly hesitant to explore). But this is actually really cool because NeoG is like the space equivalent of the Coast Guard: it's all rescue missions and not warfare.

We have a big cast of characters that I found very overwhelming at the start. Each character has a name, a nickname, a military rank, preferred pronouns, a backstory, relationships, etc etc. The name/nickname/rank trifecta really knocked me off balance for a while until everyone settled in my mind. Once we got the introductions out of the way, each character was dimensional and distinct with a rich depth of emotion, conflict, and past.

It was a little difficult to get a handle on what the main plot was. There were two that were kind of warring for focus (no spoilers, I promise): the inter-military Boarding Games competition and the big conspiracy that our team stumbles on. Most "screentime" is taken up by the Games (which serves as the primary avenue for character growth, too) but we hinge on (and end with) the conspiracy.

The writing was efficient and carried the story. There were a few times when the rotating third person POV got a little confusing with pronouns and shifting focus between sentences, but the story was clear and generally easy to follow. I would absolutely read more books by Wagers
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This was a solid and enjoyable sci-fi read. I’m a big sci-fi fan but have not read as much lately as I would like too. This had the sci-fi space opera feel that I was looking for and I was happy to read this. This reminded me a bit of Firefly mixed with Starship Troopers with a pinch of Ender’s Game thrown in, but without all the bugs and aliens. This is a pure humans in space story that is very character driven.

There are three main characters: A lesbian, a bisexual woman, and an asexual woman. This book is very LGBTQ friendly, taking place in a time where sexuality and gender is just completely accepted. The romances are all light with no explicit sex scenes at all. There is not much more than a few hugs and kisses. I do have to say I was disappointed that Max and Jenks did not get together. They had the most chemistry of anyone and with how they kept growing closer, they would have been perfect for a romance. Instead, they were both paired up with male partners that were a little boring and lackluster. I’m guessing maybe Wagers didn’t want to have two wlw storylines going on (the other main is a married lesbian), but I think it was a real missed opportunity.

While this really is a book about characters and their relationship with family and friends, it also has a mystery that brings some action to the book, and a big competition. There are games that every military branch competes in and our main characters are trying to win the games for the first time. Everything from sword fighting to piloting, the games are like the World Cup or the Olympics, a really big deal. When our characters are not rescuing people in space, they are training for the games. It was a really fun part of the book between the competition and the military rivalries. My one complaint about this part is I think it was too rushed. The games are so important, that fact is hammered home, that the finale big game day is fast-forwarded too much for my tastes.

While I really enjoyed this read it did have some pacing issues. It takes a little while to really get into the story. Things were a little slow in the beginning and I was getting a little worried, luckily I soon got hooked into the story. However, the pacing issues did continue some. The story would slow down and the book at times seemed a little long. I noticed parts I would have personally cut-out, but then like I mentioned about the games, all of a sudden the pace went too fast and I wished it would slow back down. This was not a huge issue at the end of the day, but it was one of the major reasons why this was not more than a 4 star read for me.

If you are looking for an entertaining and lighter sci-fi story, this is a good choice. This is a story that is much more character driven but still had some good action that kept me entertained. I enjoyed the characters enough that I would absolutely read the next book in the series. The major storylines in this book are complete and this did NOT end in a cliffhanger which is always nice.
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I received this advance galley via NetGalley.

I'm a huge fan of Wagers's other sci-fi series (The Indranan War and The Farian War) and I was very excited to see what they could do with space opera set closer to Earth. While this book didn't have the instant magnetism of the previous books--in part because I had a hard time keeping the large cast straight in my head--once it's gets going, it's good.

The NEO-G are essentially the space coast guard. Under-funded and under-appreciated, they monitor the shipping lanes and keep travelers safe from threats foreign and domestic. There are no aliens. Humans travel space alone, and go long distances thanks to advances in extending the human life span--technology patented by Max Carmichael's family. However, she chose not to enter the company or the Navy, as dictated by tradition and her dictator parents, but to enter the NEO-G and really save people's lives. Shunned by her birth family, she finds a new family among her comrades in space as they do their day jobs and prepare for the big military rivalry reality-type show that happens once a year. However, when mischief in space points back toward Max's family and their hidden tech, she and her new friends start to dig for answers--and soon find themselves the targets of some dangerous people.

Timing is weird in publishing. Another book with a similar basic concept--Coast Guard in space, with a reality show component, is also out in March 2020. <i>Sixteenth Watch</i> by Myke Cole, being by an author with military experience, is also much deeper into the military aspect and the Coast Guard and Navy rivalry has much, much higher stakes. In comparison, <i>A Pale Light in the Black</i> is a breezier, lighter book more in the mode of Firefly. Both books use the same concepts well, and have entirely different vibes and plot lines.

What really shines in <i>A Pale Light in the Black</i> is the concept of found family. These are people who grow close, who have each other's backs, and get to zoom around in space and help others. I mean, what more can a person want?
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I knew I immediately needed to pick up A Pale Light in the Black as soon as I read this description from the author when Harper Voyager announced their new series:

    "The NEO-G books are going to be a departure from the grimdark futures and instead focusing on a moment in time when humanity is at its best. This will be accessible science fiction with interesting characters and exciting action. Plus, we’re going to have all the things I know I love reading about: found family, snarky siblings, explosions, and triumphant celebrations."

And holy hell! It was so good!!! It's like a slice-of life military sci-fi story that follows a military team as they train for this huge annual inter-military tournament. I loved everything about this book! I especially loved the whole crew of Zuma’s Ghost and the whole NeoG! The NeoG is the space coast guard I never knew I needed in my life and now that I've read the book I need more of their story!

This book was a mix of so many things I love! There was found family! Ethnically and sexually diverse characters! Space battles! A huge tournament-style military competition! And so much more! Even better was that one of the main point-of-view characters was canonically asexual from the start and I loved that so much!

The worldbuilding and the history of the NeoG were superbly done as expected from K.B. Wagers. I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading and I didn't figure anything out about the mystery and the big bad before the reveal. I'm interested to see where the crew of Zuma's Ghost go next and what other shenanigans they get up to. I have some ships I'm super shipping and I can't wait to see what comes of them. Fingers crossed that the established ones stay together as the series progresses.

I love when books come out of nowhere and hits you like a bag of bricks. I seriously loved this book so much! It’s definitely going to be one of my top ten favorite books of the year. You all need to go buy this book and immediately read it when it comes out especially if you love a good sci-fi book.
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I was really looking forward to this as I have read several of her other books. The story line was good but I was disappointed with the journey into the gender/pronoun wars. I realize I'm getting older but I don't care for that aspect. Other than that, the book was good. Plot line kept the reader interested.
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I really enjoyed this book! I had seen a little about A Pale Light in the Black coming out and thought it sounded interesting, so I was excited when I got the chance to review an advance copy. . It's military sci-fi but not darrrk like that can be, nice for readers looking for something a little gentler. It's bigger than our solar system but as small as a found family.

The premise is "the Coast Guard... in Spaaace!" It's centered on one crew of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard, or NeoG. Much of the plot involves their preparation for the annual tournament between the military branches known as the Boarding Games. There's fencing, network hacking, spaceship racing, and a lot of trash-talking. But the NeoG is always on call, so our team also rescues stranded travelers, arrests smugglers, and gets pulled into an investigation that reveals a nasty conspiracy.

Big themes in the book are self-determination and the importance of family, however that's shaped for you. A lot of the story is fun, but several of the characters face some really difficult stuff, and the team gets through it together.

I felt like the story had a sort of episodic nature that could translate into a fun TV series. The book has a satisfying ending but there's definitely room for another story, with either this team or another NeoG crew. I hadn't read anything by K. B. Wagers before this, but I will look for their earlier novels and definitely anticipate the second book in this NeoG series.
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K.B. Wagers rocks!  I've read all her books, and she does not disappoint.   A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK  is a great read.  Well worth the time the time . Lots of suspense and action; a mystery; a diverse cast of characters; women who can kick-ass, and are still caring.  The men aren't bad, either!  I recommend this book highly.
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This book started out with a NeoG space crew preparing for a competition with members of other branches of the military. Along the way, they start to uncover a plot to make and distribute a fake drug, LifeEX, which is used to extend people's lives, especially useful in long space journeys. I felt that the first half of the book was a little bit slow, and I really wanted to see more development of the characters. About half-way through the story though, the plot intensified and I had a lot more insight into the characters. I enjoyed the tension between Max Carmichael and her family members, an elite family who produced the life-prolonging drug, LifeEx. Most of the family served in the Navy in addition to the family business, and rejected Max for joining the NeoG. As a big fan of the Coast Guard, I really liked how the NeoG was modeled after the Coast Guard. I hope to see more books in this series.
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This is another great read from author KB Wagers! This romp combines a lot of the things I love to see in my space operas! Romance! Cool action hero antics! Emotional talks with partners! Amazing world building that has inclusivity built in!! I love Max the main character and her journey as she grows with her new NeoG team and found family. I love the games and how it felt like the olympics with a spirit of competition and togetherness. Jenks is amazing and it was so good to see them grow emotionally through the story. The fights feel real and I love that there were call backs to pop culture that’s current now!
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book.  The description sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I wasn’t completely disappointed.  It took me a while to get into the story, but it did pay off for me in the end.  I’ll probably check out the next book by the author.
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