the silversThe Silvers by Jill Smith

Published by: Bold Strokes Books

Format: Kindle edition

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance (possibly mm but there’s an alien so…it’s actually m/a?)

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 9/10

While the cover has been the subject of many a disturbing tweet (note to publishers: that cover is not…the greatest. You think I kid but I’m asking seriously, why would you use that? I would never in a million years have purchased this book except for the urging of trusted sources. No, really, not at all. EVER. It’s – what’s the word? Oh yes, AWFUL), the book itself is a rich and beautifully written find that lingered far longer than it should have and actually had me questioning my own humanity at points. It’s a rare romance novel that is able to do that!

Plot: B, captain of the first crewed mission to the Silver Planet, does not think of the planet’s native race as people. Silvers may look human, but their emotional spectrum is severely limited. B allows his team to capture, study, and even kill the creatures.

When B bonds with a Silver called Imms, everything changes. B’s not sure if Imms’s feelings are genuine or imitation, but B’s growing friendship with Imms becomes his anchor in a strange world. Following a shipboard fire that kills most of B’s team, B takes Imms back to Earth. He sanitizes the story of the fire—for which Imms bears some responsibility—so that Imms is recast as its hero rather than its cause.

Life on Earth threatens the fragile connection between the two men. As Imms seeks independence from a bureaucracy that treats him like a test subject, he begins to experience the gamut of emotions—including a love B is frightened to return. And as B and Imms’s story about the fire threatens to unravel, Imms must use all he’s learned about being human to protect B.

Review: Wow! Behind that god awful cover is a diamond. No really, I know you’re all staring at that awkwardly kneeling silver dude and thinking, “no way will I ever read this novel. It’s just so ridiculous!” But if you gave up before even giving it one chapter, you’d be missing out on something wholly unique. This is at its basest a romance between a human and an alien; sounds ridiculous and cheesy but it’s not. It’s written with elegant and nuanced prose. The setting, even when bleak, seems lush and flushed out.  The romance itself is beautiful and heartbreaking: there’s the thrill of secret attraction, the first kiss, the first something more. There’s the learning to live with and understand another’s foibles. There’s the slowly evolving trust and eventual acceptance. It’s a forbidden romance that will tug at your heart strings and will have you rooting for the impossibility of B and Imms’ relationship.

The hardest part of reading this for me was, once you look past the surface, The Silvers is a chilling social commentary on humans and our need to hurt, maim, and destroy anything different. I started this book expecting an alien romance a la Jennifer L Armentrout’s Lux Series. Those books are passionate, action packed, and deliciously sexy. Because of the aliens, I assumed this would be similar but it’s just not. That’s not to say it’s a disappointment, I just don’t want you going into this assuming Imms and B will have an easy go of it. Their relationship is fraught with tension and turmoil, with pain and suffering, with a whole slew of racism and hatred. It was difficult to read and even harder to digest. I guess I’m an optimist who always assumes that right will prevail and it does to some extent, but this is definitely not a happy book. You won’t walk away feeling uplifted or buoyant. You will feel introspective at best and depressed at worst. Don’t worry – it fades over time.

All in all, I’m giving this a 9/10 for fantastic writing, plotting, and world building. 1 point deduction for the overall pervading sadness I had to deal with for a week after.

How much did I like the heroes: B: 2/Imms: 10. B is at his core a good guy but he’s weak. Constantly questioning his attraction to Imms, constantly demanding he be the one to adapt and change. He’s also not very nice and a bit of a cold, expressionless douche at times. Imms on the other hand is an amazing character. He is eager to learn, adaptable, and tries everything to make B happy. He’s the consummate pleaser. Combining these two was rough and I wish B had been more gentle to Imms.

How believable is the plot: 9. Let’s forget for the sake of review that this is an alien-human relationship we’re discussing now – yes, this is a very believable novel. If you approach it as two people from completely different backgrounds learning to love and co-exist? 100% believable.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Jill Smith is a master of world building. She has an elegant touch and manages to convey so much depth of feeling and character into every line. Truly awe-inspiring writing. No visible mistakes and a tight narrative. I could read her style 24/7.

How much did I want to keep reading: 9. This is a tough one – the book depressed me and as a result, I wanted it to end; however the writing style was phenomenal and the characters were insanely thought provoking so I wanted to keep going. Decide for yourself!

Final Score: 9/10. Not for the weak of heart, this book is a compelling look at love and humanity.

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