Xodus: The Astralis Series Book 1 *****
By K.J. McPike

Lali is a sixteen year old girl coping with the fact that her mother left the family a couple months ago. She’s the oldest of five kids, so she does her best to help with dinner and look strong for her siblings. Then strange visions make her wonder if she’s going crazy or developing super powers. I would give this story more than five stars if I could. Don’t bother reading the rest of my long rant. Just buy this book and be happy!

McPike had me from the first chapter. Normally I doubt a story and stay on the fence about if I’m going to dedicate the time necessary to finish, but not with Xodus. There was a likeable character in a weird situation right away. Then there was the amazing use of tension! I can’t recall a single lull. I don’t mean that the pace was too fast, I mean that We the Reader always had a reason to keep turning the pages. That is a silly thing to say, since I listened to the audiobook! I got a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I also got a free lesson in characterization! McPike nails it. Lali, Kai, and the gang are complicated people. Their quirks end up causing interpersonal conflict that drives the plot. As a fellow writer, it is such a joy to discover this amazing example of characterization. 

I had to Tweet the author right away to tell her how impressed I was. I have been focusing on my own ability to develop lovable characters on the last two books I wrote and now that I’m preparing a plot for the next, I feel like this outstanding example of writing will help me take my craft to the next level.

“No one knew what I was going through,” Lali says in one part. It’s such a believable thing for a teen to say. The fact that it’s about interdimensional motionless travel gets easily accepted along with the adolescent feelings of isolation.

The superpowers in this story were a lot of fun! McPike and I share a fondness for superpowers that are close to what people can actually do. I have had a few lucid dreams before, so astral projection as a super power sparked some immense curiosity. I enjoyed it when I read The Dreams of Philip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan and even gave one of my fantasy characters a similar power in A Paleolithic Fable. Lali and Kai are half aliens so their powers take unpredictable quirks. That was another great twist.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. There is certainly far more of Lali’s world to explore.

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