Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.
But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.
They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.
During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.
27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.
27 Hours was probably my most anticipated book of the year. I first got to know about it on Twitter before it had been announced thanks to the author’s #queerteensinspace, so it’s safe to say I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time. Did it meet my expectations? Honestly, not quite, which I can understand in part because my expectations were really high.
I still liked it well enough and will continue reading the series, but this book feels a lot like a debut (and it is). The plot is nice, the writing is good and the characters are entertaining, but the execution doesn’t quite manage to make it all shine as it should. Some of the banter was a bit tiring and I really missed knowing more about the world, and most of the relationships didn’t convince me. I didn’t dislike them, but I didn’t fall for any of them either.
And honestly? The big culprit here is the one right in the title: this book happens in only 27 hours, which is a whole night in the Sahara. I tried, really, but I just can’t understand falling in love with someone in 27 hours. Liking them? Liking them a lot? Of course. But love? Not that Rumor and Jude say the three words, but I felt like they got too close too fast because the initial romancing (?) had to happen in the first book instead of because it was the natural progression of things. Nothing big, but certainly something that made me only kind of interested in their relationship instead of full on invested.
The other thing that bothered me was the worldbuilding, or the lack of it. There is no infodump or anything of the sort, which is nice, but the world – Sahara – feels too thin. The history of humanity’s arrival also felt too sparse and I couldn’t actually follow how everything happened.
Now on to the rep: the more I think about this book, the more confused I get about Braeden’s sexual and romantic orientations. Yeah, he defines his asexuality as not wanting sex, which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t made clear that’s how it works for him and not for every ace (asexuality is about attraction, not behavior, and yes, lots of aces don’t want sex because they don’t feel sexual attraction, but not having sex =/= ace), but that part didn’t bother me much, to be honest. Which left me puzzled was his romantic orientation. Or how he doesn’t even considers it.
At first, back when 27 Hours had just been announced, Braeden was said to be aroace. Then the author corrected it and said he was only ace and would find out more about his romantic orientation in the book. Which, fine, I get it. Except… he doesn’t? Maybe she meant in the series (which will be a trilogy, if I’m not mistaken) and not the first book in specific, but the thing is, Braeden doesn’t even think about his romantic orientation. During the whole book, he mentions many times that he doesn’t want sex and doesn’t get how everyone is always crazy about it, but not once does he reflects on how relationships can exist without sex (or sexual attraction) and where he fits in all this. I got strong aro vibes from him and really strong queerplatonic vibes from him and Trick, though I’m still thinking that is me projecting. If that’s the end game, I will be really happy, but still puzzled. If Braeden finds out he is aromantic or at least in the aromantic spectrum later, what let him to not question his romantic orientation sooner? Didn’t he know about aromanticism? If that’s the case, why did he know about asexuality and not aromanticism? (Or why did all other queer identities were known, but aromanticism was not?)
Again, this is all me speculating because as far as I know Breaden can end up being bi or gay or hetero or whatever and not aro. But I did feel like he was aro.
Last thing about the rep: Aimal wrote an awesome review highlighting how 27 Hours centers colonialist views since most characters are colonists and even the one who isn’t is still a human aka the alien species aka the invaders. Not one of the POV characters is a chimera, the indigenous species to Sahara.
But now that I’ve talked about the bad and the confusing, let’s move on to the good, or the reason I still liked this book and plan on reading the next volume: 27 Hours is fun, engaging and well, important. Most of its characters are diverse and all of them have well developed personalities. It’s easy to feel for them, to care about them and their problems, and to hope everything will turn out okay for them.
My favorite was Rumor. He was, in my opinion, the most complex of all and the “core” of the book, so to speak. He went through a lot of shit, is (rightfully) angry and is at the same time honest and just good. He’s the main reason I’m interested in this series.
I also loved Breaden and Dahlia (and, well, all of them, but mainly these three) and really enjoyed some of the worldbuilding, like Nyx being able to hear the moon and the tech the characters used. The chimera were also really interesting and I liked how they were not a monolith, each of them having their own personalities and ideologies. Even the antagonist pleased me.
In conclusion, 27 Hours is a flawed debut that still manages to be fun and entertaining, having the most interesting and well developed cast of characters I’ve seen in some time. 3.5 stars.