Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The 5th Gender by G.L. Carriger

The 5th Gender by G.L. Carriger
The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars Mystery #1)
By G.L. Carriger
Gail Carriger
Format: eARC
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: Tristol is a galoi, an alien species that mistrusts outsiders and has very little contact with them. Having made a life-altering choice that meant exile from his people, Tris lives on a space station among humans. There’s one human in particular whom Tris would absolutely love to get to know better, and when a galoi ship suddenly requires the help of space station personnel, Tris finds himself working alongside his longtime crush, Detective Drey Hastion, to solve a murder mystery.

Review: Gail Carriger forays into sci-fi romance with The 5th Gender, a deftly plotted and written novel that immediately drew me into life on board a space station.

Tristol, one of our MCs, is a galoi, a lavender alien with hair that almost functions like an appendage. His species is xenophobic, and Tris lives in exile, having chosen not to follow the course that other loga galoi like him are expected to on his home world. Although he has become invisible to his own people, Tris is very welcome among the denizens of the space station, where his effervescent, easygoing personality makes him impossible not to like. I especially loved his ongoing education in the nuances of human language and behavior and how seriously he took his responsibilities cat-sitting for some human friends.

Detective Drey Hastion is our other protagonist, and where Tris wears his happy heart on his sleeve, Drey is gruff and growly. He harbors a tender spot for Tris, though, and the feeling is very much mutual. When Tris’s cat-sitting charge gets into some mischief, Drey finds himself wrapped up in the feline drama. This provides the perfect opportunity for the sparks to ignite between the human security officer and our adorable galoi. Things get torrid between the two; if you like your romance scorching, you won’t be disappointed. It’s also very sweet—this pair truly complements each other, and their openness towards learning about their respective customs inspires many an “awww!”

The 5th Gender also features a murder mystery. A galoi ship suddenly contacts the space station in need of help to find whoever killed one of their crew. Drey is of course assigned to the case, with Tris accompanying him to assist in navigating the tricky communications with the galoi. The investigation develops into so much more—it’s a fascinating look inside galoi culture, which is hardly known to those outside of it. The search for the culprit becomes just as focused on the motive, as the galoi do not even have a word for murder. As Drey and Tris dig deeper and deeper for answers, the picture that emerges hits very close to home for Tris. It’s heartbreaking to fully realize what he went through in arriving at his decision to choose exile over conforming to the galoi’s expected gender roles. The truth that Tris and Drey finally uncover on board the galoi ship leaves shock and sadness in its wake, but from the tragedy there is also a glint of hope for change.

Overall, I loved how multi-layered the story was and how smoothly it shifted between humor and a more serious tone. I also loved the diverse cast of characters on board the space station and definitely hope to get to know them better in the future. This is a great start to a new series!

All in All: The 5th Gender delivers in so many ways: it’s sweet, it’s romantic, it’s funny, and most importantly, it tells a very impactful and very timely story.

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