Changing Worlds by Cari Z.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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In this sequel to Opening Worlds, we continue following Jason Kim as he goes to live on Perelan with his new husband Ferran. Jason will have to face culture shock, homesickness, misunderstandings and political intrigue as he struggles to reconcile the things he believes in and his feelings for Ferran with strange alien traditions and a people divided as to whether they want him there at all.
Changing Worlds builds on the strong relationship of Jason and Ferran while introducing conflicts and external pressures that test the strength of their bond and even their very lives. Even though Ferran’s family is very accepting of Jason, other houses are not and he has to struggle with a language barrier and an isolationist society that is leery of outsiders. Jason and Ferran show their inner strength as they face these trials, proving their love over and over again. I really felt that I was reading about the best of marriages as the two prop each other up and care for each other’s safety and well-being. They have misunderstandings too, like any married couple, yet they communicate like adults and settle their problems.
Changing Worlds struck me on a personal level as well. As an ex-pat, I have had to deal with feelings of homesickness and adapting to a different culture. The way Jason’s feelings are portrayed in Changing Worlds is one-hundred-percent accurate. I actually felt tears roll down my face as Jason grew frustrated and yearned for the simple trappings of home in one scene. Yet, like my real life, the love he left his home for is worth more to him than anything and his determination to see it through for Ferran means he earns every drop of love that comes his way. The best relationships, real and fictional, are earned through struggle and personal growth, sacrifice and shared experience and I really felt that between Ferran and Jason.
Cari Z has also created an incredibly rich world with Perelan. Everything from the acid humidity of the air to the rituals of the culture are shown to the reader in vivid detail, bringing Perelan and its people to life. Sometimes these details are unflinching and somewhat disconcerting, but that only adds to the richness of the story. The supporting characters are strong as well, the twins as well as Matriarch Grenn and Giselle in particular, though I found Penelope’s backstory intriguing as well. The internal politics of Perelan feel real and believable, the kind of schemes and machinations that would happen in a society like this struggling to define itself and the direction it wants to take in a larger universe.
This novel is ripe for a sequel as well. I would love to go back to Perelan or even just visit Jason and Ferran out in the universe someday. I hope Cari Z considers it as I really love the universe she has created here and recommend it to everyone.