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REVIEW: Ignite, by Nora Phoenix

Title: Ignite

Series: Ignite Series

Author: Nora Phoenix

Genre: Sci Fi, Dystopian, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, MMM

Publisher: Self

Pages: 236

Reviewer: Olivia

Get It On Amazon

About The Book

In a world that’s burning, where it’s every man for himself, all they can do to survive is hold on to each other…

A slow burn MMM romance set in a dystopian world. The first book in an exciting trilogy!

The world has changed. Tan has survived three years in a reintegration camp he was sent to for being gay, but he’s at the limit of what he can endure, even with the help of his best friend, Austin.

When a massive meteor shower creates chaos at the camp, Austin and Tan take the chance to escape. They’re joined by Mack, a newbie at camp who is an expert in survival but knows nothing about love…or anything else.

But when they discover human-like aliens have landed on Earth with war on their agenda, their escape becomes a hell of a lot more dangerous. They grow close, but without power and food and no safe place to stay, how will they survive? Where can they find freedom…and love?

While the world around them burns, all they have are each other.

Ignite is the first book in the suspenseful Ignite trilogy, a slow burn MMM romance set in an alternative world. The first book ends in a cliffhanger, but the series will end with a HEA. 

The Review


Worldbuilding

I’m not going to lie, the premise of this book is dark, and at points uncomfortably believable. Ever listened to the podcast ‘It Could Happen Here’? Well, this book explores the same premise: a second American Civil War, and a country broken into three new entities. The Conservative United States takes up most of the Big Empty, from Montana down to (you guessed it) Texas. The Eastern United States is on one side, and if I got the writer’s geography right (and I have no geographic skills, so this is a big if) the West Coast is off on its own as well.

This was all ten years ago, by the book’s timeline. The CUS is a Christian theocracy. And the nightmares of anybody who doesn’t fit the mold have come true; dissident camps. Hell on earth.

But one night, the power goes out. Meteors are falling. The camp’s security is a little lax. And it’s time for three men to make a desperate run for freedom.

The setup is carried through really well in small details: offhand remarks by characters, quick asides and little events. It’s a wholly believable environment, one you could see yourself inhabiting (in your nightmares), and close enough to current events to give a reader the shivers.

The Crowd

Characterization

This story centers around three characters: playful and wounded Tan, the unflappable Austin, and Mack, young and lost and so utterly afraid of it all: the situation, the future, and his own needs.

It’s a great matching of personalities. Mack is the youngest of the trio, barely out of his teens, and with a brutally repressive family life behind him. His need for protection brings out the absolute best in the more experienced guys, but it’s also a refuge for them; a chance for poor Tan, who’s been used by too many abusers for too long, to regain a sense of safety by the grace of Mack’s innocence. And Austin needed a family so much; these two guys fulfill that for him. Watching these three navigate their situation was like watching the author use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a xylophone, in the best possible way. Yeah, they have to hide from attacking aliens, survive a cold Midwestern winter, and find food. But they also have to figure out how to make Mack feel safe and get him to let go of his fear that he’ll get a boner when they share a sleeping bag for warmth. They have to learn to trust one another. And watching them come together as a team and then as a romantic trio is wonderful.

Writing Style

This is a nicely written work that hits all the right notes: consent, recovery, acceptance, and patience. Trauma and resilience. There’s some great scene setting, a lot of fun quips, and some great conceptual work.

I will ding a couple points for the formatting, which still needs one more round of touching up. But that’s life in the indie biz, and it’s nothing too bad.

Plot

A good old post-apocalyptic setup with an LGBT twist? Yes please. The situations were classic to the survival genre, but the characters gave them a new spin and kept the readers engaged. It’s a really fun little read in spite of the dark setting.

Overall Rating

A lovely, redemptive and surprisingly hopeful entry in the post-apocalyptic, the-aliens-attack genre. Definitely worth your time.

The Reviewer

Olivia Wylie is a jack of all trades and a master of none. Trained in horticulture, she writes ethnobotany and horticulture under her own name and queer climate change fiction with a hopeful twist under the pen name of O.E. Tearmann. She lives in Colorado with a very patient partner and a rather impatient cat.

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