February 13, 2019

Lyssa Chiavari: "Fourth World"

Title: Fourth World [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Iamos Trilogy (1st of 3 books, but there's also a novella that is book 1.5 in the series)
Author: Lyssa Chiavari [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Interesting premise. Varied (and diverse) cast of characters who (mostly) feel like real teens.
Cons: While interesting, the premise is not overly original. While nice, the characters don't exactly grab you. Some telling-vs.-showing.
Will appeal to: Those who like time travel, mandatory but slightly out-of-the-box romances, and accidental heroes.

Blurb: Life on Mars isn't all it's cracked up to be when you're Isaak Contreras. Ever since his dad disappeared two years ago, Isaak's been struggling to keep up in school, and he never seems to be able to live up to his mom's high expectations. But everything changes when he finds an ancient coin among his missing father's possessions. The coin makes him a target of both the Martian colonial government and a crazed scientist with a vendetta - and it leads him to a girl from another time named Nadin, who believes that Isaak might just hold the key to saving both their worlds. That is, if they can survive long enough to use it...(Amazon)

Review: First off...SORT-OF DISCLAIMER: I won a digital copy of Fourth World in a giveaway a while ago. Of course, this didn't influence my opinions.


Fourth World technically had all the ingredients for my kind of story. And I did like it...but less than I expected. The premise is interesting enough - Mars became an Earth colony, though I'm not sure how it could be accomplished; a teen guy (Isaak) searching for the answer to his father's disappearance finds more than he bargained for, and gets whisked to a past where the planet is on the verge of dying, with all its original inhabitants. Here he befriends a privileged, but questioning girl (Nadin), and they set on a journey to save Mars' native people (and possibly, to send Isaak home). Also, there are conspiracies going on in both timelines, and a bunch of diverse characters both in the sexuality spectrum (lesbian, demi, ace) and the ethnicity one. So...interesting. Maybe not exactly fresh, you know, but as a combination of different themes, it works. On the other hand...I'm not sure if it was because I recognised a few tropes that I was left wanting more. Maybe it had more to do with the execution than with the ingredients. I liked the taste, but the whole dish didn't ultimately amount to more than the sum of its parts. That's not to say that this book (or series) hasn't a few things going for it though, especially in the rep department. [...]


As I said, lots of diversity has been weaved into Fourth World. I think it's especially rare, to this day, to find queer characters in sci-fi...well, rarer than in contemporary or even fantasy (?) books, I guess. Or maybe it's because sci-fi YA is still a niche, compared to the popularity of the genres I mentioned. Anyway, after encountering a same-sex couple of parents (which is relatively more common than other forms of sexual diversity in books), it was refreshing to read about a (self-aware) demisexual character (especially a male one, because we all know that boys are EXPECTED to be heavily sexual), and an asexual one still in the process of figuring herself out. Even in that respect, though, there was a tad more telling-vs.-showing than I would have liked. Also, I was surprised that other kinds of diversity weren't handled with the same care, since words like "spaz" were occasionally used (and in a distant, presumably advanced future, too - though not a perfect one, since some race issues are implied here and there). One thing I wasn't overly fond of was the insta-attraction between the two main characters - both of whom are supposed to have prior commitments or love interests. Also, even in their peculiar situation, it doesn't make a lot of sense that they get attached so fast, given their position in the queer spectrum - or at least it doesn't for the male character...


Fourth World is, on the whole, an enjoyable tale, weaving time travel, mysteries, coming of age and a touch of romance. And since it ends with a cliffhanger - and its single installments couldn't stand alone anyway, due to the global story arc - I'm going to read the rest of the series eventually (when I'm able to buy ebooks, that is). The fact is...I wasn't exactly compelled to get to the last page. Both the story and the cast were nice (and I'm sure some of the latter spoke volumes to teens who are dying to see themselves represented in books), but I never felt strongly about either of them. I couldn't help noticing the amount of adjectives in some sentences - they sometimes felt like a burden, and didn't necessarily help me picture the landscape/scene in my head. All in all, though, a first installment with some promise (especially after the final game changer) for a series that I plan on completing one day*.

*(Edit 2020: I gave up. I'm still a long way off buying ebooks - since I can't afford a credit card along my debit one yet - and I decided I could live without knowing what happens next...especially since the story has a strong promise of romance).

For more Sci-Fi books click here.


  1. I'm curious to see if it gets better for you - if you continue anyway.

    It has an interesting premise and characters but sometimes series get off to a slow start.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I do mean to finish the series one day. And I usually hear complaints about "middle book syndrome", but I agree that some series get stronger with each book they add.

  2. This books sounds like it covers a lot of controversial issues, especially those regarding sexuality and gender. From what you've said, it seems like the author does a good job of addressing those topics, and it didn't feel forced or like they were just trying to make a point with their story. I'm sorry this one wasn't more amazing for you!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    1. I think that aspect was well done, though there was a little more telling-vs.-showing that I would have liked, but since some people still need educating in that field, I can't say it's a bad thing!


Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.