Owen Lach’s Broken Valley is a captivating queer science fiction tale that blends clever world-building, breathless action, and thoughtful, compelling relationships.
Broken Valley is Lach’s follow-up to his debut novel, Founder’s Mercy, continuing the story of Adan Testa, a queer sixteen-year-old on the run from Union forces determined to capture him. Adan is a unique and compelling protagonist who’s easy to root for as he navigates his first romantic relationship while staying one step ahead of the world’s many dangers. The novel is set in the distant future on a colonized world called Neska. Lach does an excellent job of world-building and creating a sense of place. The descriptions of the various locations that Adan and his friends travel through are vivid and immersive.
I appreciated how Lach used the story to tackle issues of heroism and what it means to enact and experience the kinds of violence so common to sci-fi adventure stories. While Adan’s ancient, high-tech armor may keep him safe from physical injury, the psychological damage Adan suffers is clear and present throughout the story. This helped keep the story grounded and real.
While clearly written for a younger audience, Lach’s prose is still evocative and descriptive. I found myself fully immersed in his world-building as Adan and his friends explored the greater world of Neska. The action scenes are particularly well-constructed, and I was on the edge of my seat as Adan faced off against his enemies.
Fans of queer and young adult sci-fi will absolutely enjoy Lach’s The Neskan Chronicles. Broken Valley is an exciting tale full of great characters, a fascinating plot, and effortless queer sensibility.
This book contains descriptions of PTSD-related stress and anxiety, descriptions of violence and death, death and/or loss of loved ones/family members, and dealing with trauma within personal and romantic relationships.