Review: Stellar Instinct by Jonathan Nevair

MY ⭐️ RATING: 2.25/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync


When galactic danger calls, Agent Renault answers.
Strange signals pulse from an icy planet in a remote star system.
Enter Lilline Renault, GAM-OPs secret agent extraordinaire.
To ordinary citizens she’s Keely Larkin, an adventure company guide with a flair for the daring and a penchant for writing trite poetry. When the mission uncovers a terrifying link between high-tech entertainment and ancient cosmic forces, Lilline leaps into action. Verses flow as she rockets through space, dons cunning disguises, and infiltrates enemy territory with an arsenal of secret gadgets. To solve the mystery behind a dastardly plan means beating a mastermind at his own game. Lilline will need her best weapon to stand a fighting chance: her instinct.

STELLAR INSTINCT is a standalone interstellar espionage thriller.


I came in to the month of May looking to add more sci-fi to my library since I am doing my year end best of, based on categories rather than just a regular top 10 like I typically do. Another blogger had posted that they were planning to read Stellar Instinct this month, and when I saw the cover, I knew I had to add it to the other Sci-fi May reads. The description of it being a “Spy-fi” made me even more interested because I don’t read a lot of spy type of books either, so it added to intrigue of this sub-genre in sci-fi.

I really hate writing negative reviews and contemplated not even writing it at all, but I felt it was my duty as a book blogger to do so. This had all the makings of something that could be really good, it was a little bit of Men in Black meets Gamer with its spy like nature and the plot revolving around a virtual reality game that is being used deviously. The first 30% was not very good, and I almost put this down after chapter 10, but I decided to stick with it hoping that it would improve. While it did get better, it just never got to where I was hoping it could get to. Bland characters, a predictable plot and sub-par narration made this something I just couldn’t like, no matter how much I tried to keep going in hopes that it would get better.

Unfortunately, this just wasn’t for me despite how much I was looking forward to it. The story had its fun and interesting parts, but they were few and far between. The most interesting thing about the main character, Renault, was that her civilian identity Keely, liked poetry, which kind of reminded me of Sylvester Stallone’s character in Demolition Man where he’s programmed to like knitting, only her poetry matters in this story unlike Stallone’s. I like that Nevair wanted to add some depth to the character by doing this, but it didn’t change that she just wasn’t very interesting. With that said, her grandmother, Kissy, was actually a good character that I wish had a far larger role, but by the time I met her, I had already contemplated stopping and moving on to something else. I did like Carbrook though, he is a nerdy tech guy that likes video games and added some much needed goofiness, but like Kissy, just didn’t get the time that could’ve helped draw away from the main character.

The narration by Erica Garraffa was something that I was left wishing was better for a few reasons, the first is that the narration of several characters was actually quite nice voice, like Renault, Kissy, Carbrook and Pin, but when in narration mode it was just a bit too monotone, which forced me to take more breaks than normal because I was losing focus, it reminded me of the way Siri’s voice sounds, always the same and a bit robotic. The other issue I had is something that feels like cheating, like using chatGPT to write or using AI to create a cover, and I don’t know if it’s the blame of the narrator or the production, but using a voice distorter for characters because the narrator can’t reach a deep voice was just the wrong choice and something I hope I never experience in another audiobook again.

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