Book Review: NOPHEK GLOSS by Essa Hansen

Title in white on pale blue-grey next to image of spaceship
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - first book


Book cover for NOPHEK GLOSS: title in white above a shiny spaceship on dark prurple

Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined.

But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


NOPHEK GLOSS is an interesting sci-fi that follows a “coming of age” story structure that you typically find in YA, but with a tone and approach that is distinctly adult in feel. I think it’s because, rather than focusing so much on the “who am I?” aspect of coming of age stories (though that’s an important thread in this book), it looks more at how to be this new person now the world has changed (into a multi-verse).

It’s a story about grief and rage and PTSD, and having to mature fast. I liked the fact that this was explored through tech that lets you “accelerate” your aging, so you could have a 20 year old body but only be 14 in terms of actual years lived. It was an interesting parallel and worked really well to shine a light on Caiden’s emotional turmoil.

Despite reading the entire book, I’m not sure exactly what Nophek Gloss is. It’s a substance from some sort of beast (the Nophek) that does… something. I think, if I’d known what the something was (vague weapons something?), I might have understood why it was such a highly valued commodity. Instead, I was just taking it on trust most of the time that it was important and everyone was fighting over it, hence the inhumane conditions to create it.

I am certainly getting better at turning off the “physics student” part of my brain when I read sci-fi as I was able to just enjoy the plot implications of a multiverse, rather than picking over the physics needed for it to actually work. Visually, it was a lot of fun too (I imagine the “rinds” like big, flashy soap bubble surfaces, all glossy and multi-coloured), and I’m interested to see what that goes in the future books. Plus the way it was weaponised both in the ship and by the “baddies” was pretty cool.

NOPHEK GLOSS is the first book in a trilogy, and the second book is out this December, AZURA GHOST, which I’m interested in reading to see how the antagonist siblings’ fight progresses.

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