Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen: Review

Science Fiction books and I have a booty call relationship. We’re not super close but when I get to them, they’re a lot of fun and Nophek Gloss was a special kinda booty call.

Some information about this book:

  • Release date: November 17th 2020
  • Published by: Orbit
  • Pages: 448
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Series: The Graven (#1)


In this dark, dangerous, roller coaster of a debut, a young man sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge across a breathtaking multiverse filled with aliens, mind-bending tech, and ships beyond his wildest imagining. Essa Hanson’s is a bold new voice for the next generation of science fiction readers. 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.

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Nophek Gloss is the debut novel from author Essa Hansen. Released just less than a year ago, it has been very well received by fans with a current Goodreads rating of 3.70 after 680 ratings and 192 reviews.

This is an awesome and captivating story. The story follows a protagonist called Caiden who goes from having the perfect life with his family to being in a nightmare that he can’t wake up from. His whole universe is turned upside down and he has to really develop as a being to find the strength within him to get his life back on track. This sounds like a simple story but there are so many more hurdles and walls he needs to jump over and smash through to make it happen.

“You will learn to be vicious to survive. Multiverse has many tastes, and chews us up differently depending on species.

I think the thing that I liked the most about this story is actually the protagonist. Caiden has a very visible arc and as he grows, you feel yourself grow reading his personality. He starts off as a very simple-minded boy who doesn’t understand what is happening but after he finds a spaceship and a crew of misfit aliens to run with, he realises that what he thought he knew of life, his family, his own being, isn’t true at all and so searches for the truth.

The dynamics between Caiden and the other members of the misfit crew flow really nicely and he gels with some of them and doesn’t gel with others. Some will find him a nuisance whereas some feel responsible for him. The story is all told through Caiden but in third person so this allows you to be a part of his story while also getting to see everything going on.

“I wouldn’t recommend trying to fit to others’ expectations. Create who you feel good being. And it’s all right if that changes too.”

As the story progresses Caiden inevitably meets other beings, alien, human and other and finds himself having to tread carefully as he navigates his new surroundings, finding out who he can trust and who he needs to be careful of. I really liked him as a character and I enjoyed the other characters, especially those that fall into the antagonist category, of which there are many.

My jagged edges don’t fit in this puzzle. I keep bouncing around, damaging everything I touch. Maybe like a river stone I’ll be smooth one day after years of tumbling.

Essa does a very good job of showing through her worldbuilding and dialogue that the same things we experience here with gender and diversity, are happening in the stars too. These things are not the focus of the story but do play a part in one of the character’s lives. It felt so normal and genuine that it wasn’t something I felt was pushed to earn brownie points or tick a box. This was something done really well because it fits naturally.

“Call me ‘she,’ or whatever you’re comfortable with for now, I don’t mind. You’ve had a huge dose of new lately, so don’t overthink it, but get used to fluidity and choice. Those rule the multiverse, if anything does.”

Worldbuilding is tough. I know, I’ve done it. You have thousands of little ideas and things to include but you can’t fit everything in or else it becomes a encyclopedia of SFF and then you confuse readers. It’s best to choose a few themes or ideas and make them polished. Essa has some really cool and unique ideas in this book that I loved. I won’t spoil it by telling you here but there are numerous ideas which I haven’t seen before.

As for the actual worldbuilding of planets and ships and other sci-fi bits, they’re great. You have parts of the story in spaceships with enough detail and design explained for you to actually be able to picture the story or to experience the character’s feelings as they zip through debris or outrun a bigger ship etc. The story mainly takes part on solid land or space stations of some sort and these are well designed, thought out and fleshed out onto the pages that you can really visualise them. The place referred to as The Den gave me Citadel vibes. This for me is really important. If the worldbuilding in a book isn’t good then it becomes hard to stay engaged.

“Multiverse is full of distractions. Fighting, flirting, and . . . En loves all the F’s. Distractions.”

The pacing and action in the story is right on the money. We go from one drama to a tense standoff to a revelation of information back to a standoff and more drama. I really got Red Rising vibes from Caiden and this book. The combat in the book is really well written and believable too, which is really important. If it doesn’t sound like it could happen (superpowers aside) then it won’t be believable and if you don’t believe it you’re going to lose interest. Plenty of punches and kicks get you into the gritty action up close and personal with Caiden as he deals with those in his way.

Rating – 4/5 This is a really great debut novel from Essa Hansen. Nophek Gloss makes me excited to read more Sci-Fi. When you read this story, it’s like Caiden and you are old friends discovering the universe together. The book flows nicely, builds up problems before building up Caiden and the characters all bring something unique. This has Red Rising and Mass Effect vibes so if you like them, you’ll really enjoy this. The sequel, Azura Ghost, book 2 of The Graven is out December 7th (US)/9th (UK) by Orbit and I am really excited to see what happens next with Caiden.

You can add Nophek Gloss to your Goodreads TBR here and you can add Azura Ghost here.

You can order Nophek Gloss from The Broken Binding here and Azura Ghost here. Use the code BLURB5 for a discount on every single order!

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

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