Rating: 5 out of 5.

R. T. Coleman’s debut novel “Vagabonder,” is a high-octane, thrilling adventure from start to finish. If you’re looking for a delightful, sci-fi read, grab it up now.

About the Book

Humans have always feared Caen’s kind.

Survivors of a mysterious virus, Ruĝa Morto, that killed 80% of Earth’s population two centuries ago, they have endured enslavement as Neurologically Compromised Individuals, or NiCIes, owned by OnyxCorp. Now, in 2261, Caen begins a perilous journey to seek the Vagabonders, the original moon colonists, whom many believe hold the key to freeing his people.

He knows he is hunted. He expects death at every turn.

But he doesn’t anticipate meeting Dr. Ligeia Obumbwe, a human biogeneticist desperate to protect her brother Finn, yet another victim of the endemic virus. When OnyxCorp promises to keep Finn safe in exchange for her work in their lunar lab, she accepts despite her increasing unease regarding the Corporation’s motives.

Ligeia and Caen become unlikely partners in a dangerous quest to reach the Vine, the space elevator that is the first step in their journey to the moon.

What they find along the way could help them bring OnyxCorp to its knees…or destroy everything they love.

My Thoughts

All good science fiction and fantasy books are steeped with social commentary, and it is clear from the first chapter that “Vagabonder” is no exception. The author has dealt with topics like a world-wide pandemic and racism in a post-apocalyptic world that is not that hard to imagine. Not exactly zombie fiction, though the word does come up at one point, her new race or species, is fascinating. Because of how race and other differences are still handled today, it is easy to accept Coleman’s vision of how her Dua species would be handled in the new world. Interestingly, all mention of race and all other human differences seem to have gone to the wayside. In this utopian, dystopian, future, humans have united in their hatred of the “others.” Which seems just like humans.

Both main characters are beautifully developed. We see them in alternating point-of-view chapters. Coleman made a bold choice, using first person for one and third person for the other. Interestingly, it was the human chapter she separated us from, and the more “alien” species she gave us direct thought access, too. Perhaps this was a careful choice, to show us they weren’t that different from us after all. Is that so, Ms. Coleman? Either way, it made for an engaging and more interesting read. I’ve never seen it done before, and it could have gone wrong. But it didn’t.

I enjoyed both the main characters, and the juxtaposition of their POVs helped build the tension of their characters and stories. The grumpy, slightly jaded male main character, Caen, and the slightly naïve and idealistic female main character, Ligeia were a wonderful pair of characters to show us this world. The remaining cast of characters all added beautifully to the story and setting as well. The conclusion left me longing for more, I really hope that a sequel is in the works, and it will absolutely get a prime spot on my (unfortunately ever-growing) TBR list.

I received a gifted copy from the author as part of the Love Books Tours. It did not affect my review in any way.

Who’s It For?

If you enjoy fast-paced sci-fi, action thrillers, you will love this book. You will also enjoy it if you enjoy having your views challenged. It will probably make you think about some things. If you’re still using your media to escape from the pandemic, this book might be one you wait for a while. While the virus in this book isn’t similar to COVID at all, the worldwide pandemic might upset you. Incidentally, the author notes she started this book in 2012, well before the world experienced a pandemic.

Content Warning: Pandemic, violence, racism

About the Author

R. T. Coleman grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she nurtured a passion for reading and writing while nestled among blankets and pillows in her bedroom closet. Her love of science fiction was born when she saw Star Wars in the theater in 1977. Imagine her disappointment when she realized she could never actually be Princess Leia.

She lives in Springfield, Arkansas, with her partner Joe on their 25-acre farm, where she works as an instructional designer by day and a writer and editor by night. Vagabonder is her debut novel.

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