Double Life (2014) introduces the reader to Lyssa, a space scientist with a dark secret. Officially, she pursues a career at the Academy, excavating and selling planets for a living, but what nobody knows is that she leads a double life as a pirate under the name of Razia. She is forever treading a dangerous line between her two aliases and as the bounty on her head rises, the stakes do as well. Together with Lyssa, we enter the criminal underworld where pirates and bounty hunters play a dangerous game, all under the corrupt and watchful eye of the police.
Lyssa is one of those love-to-hate (but mostly love) classic heroines whose poor decision-making and fatal flaws throw her into one difficult situation after another. She has lots of personality and a temper like a ticking bomb. You do wish her well and I was on her side most of the time, but still, when hardships hit, you kind of feel she has it coming. That’s a difficult balance to achieve, and one that Evans manages delightfully.
What really gives Double Life its sparkle, however, is the fictional universe in which it takes place. If I had to choose one word to describe it, it’d be the oh-so-literary ”cool”. Honestly though, how can you not love funky pirate characters moving across an infinite playground in space, hunting and taunting each other with humour and deadly seriousness at once? It’s believable and well established in a way which makes it feel real – and gives that silly and wonderful urge of wishing it was indeed reality.
Finally, even if this is a fantasy novel it does what good fantasy usually does: it discusses real-life issues like sexism, political corruption, and justice. Through the main character, Evans allows us to peek into the flaws of her society – flaws that much resemble those we see around us every day. This is not a political novel, but the politics is there, nestled in the thrilling, unpredictable and captivating story of Lyssa/Razia.
All in all, Double Life has plenty of sparkle and soul. For fans of YA fantasy, heavy or light, I’d absolutely recommend Double Life. It’s a quick read, a real page-turner, and an entertaining one at that. Whether you like dystopia, reality-linked fantasy or urban fantasy, Double Life is for you. I hope more readers will discover this series, and that S. Usher Evans keeps the novels coming! The sequel is scheduled for early next year and I, for one, cannot wait!
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