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Book Review: Frontier by Grace Curtis

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To get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day Frontier crash lands onto the shelves. 

Frontier is a new post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi Western with an LGBTQ+ love story vein. It’s releasing on February 14, 2023, from Solaris Press. Below is a spoiler-free review. I received this book as an-e-ARC on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. 

What is it About? 

Frontier book reviewIn the distant future most of the human race has fled a ravaged Earth to find new life on other planets. For those who stayed a lawless society remains. Technology has been renounced, and saints and sinners, lawmakers and sheriffs, travelers and gunslingers, abound.

What passes for justice is presided over by the High Sheriff, and carried out by his cruel and ruthless Deputy.

Then a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in three hundred years. This Stranger is a crewmember on the first ship in centuries to attempt a return to Earth and save what’s left. But her escape pod crashes hundreds of miles away from the rest of the wreckage.

The Stranger finds herself adrift in a ravaged, unwelcoming landscape, full of people who hate and fear her space-born existence. Scared, alone, and armed, she embarks on a journey across the wasteland to return to her ship, her mission, and the woman she loves.

Fusing the fire and brimstone of the American Old West with sprawling post-apocalyptic science fiction, FRONTIER is a heartfelt queer romance in a high noon standoff set against the backdrop of our planet’s uncertain future.


Frontier Book Review

In terms of how post-apocalyptic this novel is, it’s closer to Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow than Mad Max. As such, it still definitely qualifies as post-apocalyptic, but if the world had been rendered a Fallout-type landscape, society has recovered a bit from that. It’s more of a “rebirth of the earth” novel than a “surviving the wasteland” book. 

The people who remained behind after the earth exodus have taken a step backwards in time, living in a mish-mash of 1800s Western culture/technology with a spattering of future tech lying around. People aren’t shocked by high-tech stuff (as maglev trains still run, and some cities are built around downed or un-launched spaceships), but they also are comfortable not using it. The religion that has sprung up is one devoted to Gaia, or the earth itself, which is why some people refuse to use technology to a certain extent. The combination of Western + Sci-Fi reminded me a lot of the show Firefly

The plot takes a while to get into. We have an unnamed woman, from a crashed ship, on a mission to find her missing girlfriend. We don’t know why she crashed or where the girlfriend is, so the stranger (who gets a new title every few chapters) travels from place to place just … looking for clues? For the first few chapters, I wasn’t very engaged, but I pushed through and by halfway I was really into it. The second half of the novel is excellent!

In terms of Romance, I would characterize it more as a “love story side plot.” Getting to her girlfriend is the driving force of Kai’s journey, but it doesn’t fall under the tropes or 3-act structure of Romance as a genre. I liked the relationship quite a bit (it’s a little bit enemies-to-lovers and I love a soldier + scientist couple). They were so cute!

The book takes some liberties with the point of view, which I enjoyed, where we get a few chapters here and there following other characters. This serves to broaden the world-building and gave it a bit of a literary flair. The prose in the novel is quite lovely, with the occasional lyrical description. The action is quick-paced and easy to follow. 

The stakes waiver a bit in terms of tension, especially in the first half, as because Kai isn’t really sure where she’s going, we’re also not sure where the story is going, but as her goals become more concrete, the story becomes very engaging. 

It’s also quite fun in you’re not sure what or who Kai’s going to run into next, whether it’s the deranged sheriff on her tail (for reasons unknown), a comic book seller who refuses to do business, a sexy thief, or a tortoise. 

Overall, if you’re fine with a slow start, Frontier is a lovely, intriguing Western sci-fi novel that would be perfect to read around Valentine’s Day. You can purchase it here on Amazon

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    T. S. Beier is obsessed with science fiction, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel (which was a Top 5 Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards and a semi-finalist in the 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition) and the Burnt Ship Trilogy (space opera). She is a book reviewer, editor, and freelance writer. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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