After entering so many Goodreads Giveaways that I’d forgotten what books I’d added to my list, I was contacted by Future House Publishing with an offer to send me a free copy of Josi Russell’s Guardians if I’d leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. I thought Sure, why not, and replied in the affirmative, thus procuring a free eBook copy only to find that it was the second book in a series. I decided to read the first one first.
Caretaker, the first in the Caretaker Chronicles, is the amazing story of a man named Ethan Bryant who ends up stuck on a ship alone with 4000 people under his charge. They’re in stasis, staying the same age as the ship travels for 50 years to the human colony set up on the planet Minea. Like the ancient mariner was surrounded by undrinkable water, Ethan is surrounded by people who can’t talk to him and he craves their company. He was supposed to be in stasis himself, but the original caretaker died before Ethan was put in stasis, so the computer named him the new caretaker. Even though he didn’t undergo the training the actual caretaker had. And even though his only skill in life is the study of an alien language no one in the universe uses anymore.
Ethan spends his days looking after the passengers, including his wife, who is so close but so far away. And then, the unthinkable happens. Someone wakes up. Kaia, a beautiful engineer, quenches his hunger for human companionship. Little does he know that he will face a much larger challenge in which his 4000 passenger’s lives hang in the balance, and he and his newly awakened shipmate are the only ones who can save them.
Reading this book, I felt as if I were experiencing the events. I felt Ethan’s loneliness, understood the desperate attempts he made to thwart the computer into relieving him of caretaker duty. I felt the slowness of the beginning that paralleled the monotony of being alone on the ship and checking to make sure everything is alright, and then the slightly heightened excitement of Kaia awakening from stasis.
Russel really understands how the human psyche works, making the characters do things in their predicaments that anybody would do in a desperate attempt to stay alive or deal with the intense situation of being the only person awake on a ship full of people they need to protect. She also knows how to add subtle hints that make you wonder what’s going to happen to the characters next, and antagonists that make you wonder how the characters are going to fare.
I could not recommend this book enough to lovers of science fiction, space operas, adventures, and especially to people who appreciate good writing.
Read an excerpt and buy the book here.