4 out of 4 stars
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There are no sunrises, sunsets, or stars that give light to the dark planet of Dalia. Lulu, a Dalian woman, believes that darkness is what she and her people deserve. However, the people of Dalia may not only be doomed to darkness but to imminent, fiery destruction in Domani, a science fiction novel by author Carolyn Gross.
Dalia sits in the shadow of Laima, the giant planet that blocks Dalia from the fires of a nearby sun. As Laima slowly shifts its position and the sun’s intense fires draw closer, Dalia’s inhabitants become increasingly afraid. The doyen, who is a prophet, always speaks words of hope and peace to his fellow Dalians, urging them to have faith in the protection of Laima.
Daily, Lulu joins the crowd that gathers to hear from the doyen, but one day, his message is not one of hope but of disaster. When the doyen announces that Dalia is going to burn, Lulu notices that the doyen is only a moment away from being assassinated. Although it is not her place to do so, Lulu intervenes to thwart the assassination attempt. Little does she know that this marks the beginning of an uprising that will affect the entire galaxy.
This first novel in the Outer Rings series has an ominous but simple opening. Then, with an unpretentious approach, the author gradually immerses the reader deeper into a dark and dusty world where not everything is as it seems. The characters are well-developed, and even minor characters play distinct roles, which adds a sense of clarity and purpose to the cast. The plot is carefully layered with themes of fear and ignorance, power and repression, truth, lies, grief, and violent revolt.
Yet, the story also includes trust, devotion, bravery, and dashes of humor and romance. Lulu, the doyen, and several more characters face questions of identity and how to handle a major paradigm shift. While the novel is dense and isn’t fast-paced, the relatively short chapters keep the story moving. The ending resolves without a cliffhanger, but there is enough vital intrigue surrounding the larger story arc to compel readers to continue the series.
Now, there are a few times when the author uses a word that does not quite fit. For instance, the word “imperceptibly” appears to describe characters’ actions that are indeed noticeable. (There is a difference between something that is imperceptible and something that is barely perceptible.) Nevertheless, the book’s minor flaws do not detract from the work in a significant way.
Overall, this is a multilayered novel with characters, action, and ideas that come alive through the author's polished style. Therefore, I give Domani a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to fans of science fiction and also fantasy readers who enjoy high-stakes stories set in other worlds.
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