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Golden Skies

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A man-god and his army of religious zealots swarmed the South nine years ago. As a child, Malik watched severed heads falling, blood spurting onto concrete, and his dear grandfather run through by a black sword.

But there’s peace…somewhere. At least that’s what Malik tells himself as his body is ripped apart by whips at a religious conversion camp. That’s what his best friend whispers as he frantically creates new force jetpacks to rescue Malik.

Yet when war bursts through the skies, and the sky troopers, assassins, and heroes fall—when the world comes crashing down—Malik Zzoha stands strong amidst the sands, infidel of the state number one.

Golden Skies is the first book in the The New Order trilogy.

295 pages, Paperback

Published June 1, 2018

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About the author

Juan Zapata

7 books28 followers
Contracted author with Owl Hollow Press and an alumnus of Alabama A&M University. My debut novel, Golden Skies, is out!

I have several nonfiction pieces published in various magazines:

Letter from an Omniscient Racist

International Half-breed

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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,333 followers
June 13, 2018
This book was among the first books that I have beta read ever. This however does not affect my review. All opinions are mine!

I may have learned the term "a fast paced book" after reading this novel, things were happening fast and there was no unnecessary dragging which I find in many of the new releases. In Under 300 pages, we have complete world building with maps, we have tons and tons of actions, we have romance and comedy. This has all the right elements :)

I just can't help myself comparing this to the upcoming release "These Rebel Waves" which I recently finished an ARC of. Both has Religion as a main theme in the book, a major difference is that this book was fast and interesting while the other one was boring and slow. And although it deals with this sensitive topic, I didn't find it to be offending in anyway!

Also, there is a full cast of characters that we find in this book and I think they were well written, relatable with a sure development throughout the book!

I have read Juan other short stories and essays and I can tell you that he can write, he has a bit of uniqueness to him and I finished this very fast.

So, If you are looking for a fast, action-packed read, which is not heavy and is kind of fresh, then this book is what you are looking for!
Profile Image for Jasmine.
437 reviews708 followers
July 9, 2018
***Actual rating: 5+++/5 Wings-of-Heaven Stars***

But what use were the heavens when you burned them down?

I used to believe that nothing will ever surpass the originality and level of brutality in young adult fiction like Throne of Glass, Half-Blood (The Covenant), or The Winner's Curse; however, after reading Golden Skies, I realized how wrong I was. Golden Skies pretty much combined all the most exciting and gut-wrenching elements in the above series while adding lots of irresistibly delicious twists, turning the entire book into a masterpiece.

The story was set in a world controlled by a tyrant, Mujadin, who firmly believed in Safad, the root of all evil. On the contrary, Mujadin’s own son, Malik, was nothing but a rebel, having faith in the opposite God, Leiol, and always disobeyed his father in public without a second thought whenever he got the chance.
”…Leiol speaks about how mortals must treat each other with kindness and respect in order for there to be justice in the world. What matters most is one’s deeds, that their light outweighs their darkness. When we die, Leiol judges us and determines whether he’ll allow us into a new, blissful world of peace or have us reborn on Certamen until we redeem ourselves.”

After being publicly accused of his wrongdoing by his son, Mujadin’s guards brought Malik to a death camp/prison somewhere called Sempoi for better torturing and punishing. Everything happened in that place was what I imagined the-worst-nightmare-came-true.
The soft touch of clothes met my fingers, scattered bits of hardness within their folds. I squeezed them. Bones? My eyes grew wide and I fell backward, my heart thundering, my skin searing on the burning floor. I scrambled away from the poor soul who had been left here to die. Now I understood the presence of the knife. Suicide was an option if supposed faith in Safad wasn’t.

Mercifully, with the help of Malik’s newly-made friend, Alayne, in the prison, his days there weren’t as unbearable as they ought to be. What’s more, Alayne was practically Malik’s guardian angel in such darkness, making her my first favorite character in the whole story.
”You’re okay. It’s going to be okay…” she whispered, her blue eyes wide.
I closed my eyes and lay still. The pain pounded relentlessly in my head. The room spun. “You don’t have to lie…”
“I’m partly saying that to boost my own confidence; my life is linked to yours.”
I chuckled, coughing mid-way.

Just when I thought Malik and Alayne might develop something more than friendship during the difficult times, the author thoughtfully decided to give us a shattering twist that I DID NOT SEE COMING afterwards. Therefore, the bubbly pink atmosphere I felt (and naïvely pictured) evaporated all at once, leaving the story back to that torturous consequence of injustice once again.

Despite the misfortune of Malik’s life as a blasphemer, his supportive sister, Eliza, along with his best friend, Kafed, managed to help him escape—thanks to Kafed’s genius invention, the Wings of Heaven (a.k.a. jetpacks)—from the inhumanity inflicted by Mujadin’s assassins. Interestingly, Malik and his friends weren’t the only ones despising Mujadin; a group of people had been holding clandestine meetings for a while and they formed an indestructible army in the hope of overthrowing Mujadin’s tyranny.

Before reaching the end of the book, tons of people—mostly good ones and partly bad—died and some of my ex-favorite characters turned out to be the biggest traitors of all time, adding spice to the already-action-packed story once more. Although the uprising was quelled eventually, none of the rebels could breathe a sigh of relief because a more ferocious, more bloodthirsty army of elites were recruited, eliminating those who stood in their way of holding the reins of government.

Hence, the biggest challenge here was whether Malik—the Echoer of the Rebels AND the Savior of his hometown—could defeat this new enemy, become the real King, and let justice prevail, just as the old prophecy foretold, OR would he and his people be defeated in the battle that would surely come?
”…The offspring of a horrible tyrant is born to rise against him. This person endures agony and tribulations and survives where others have died since he��s gifted by Leiol to see his punishment rendered and establish a new order. From there, his duty is to bring continuous justice to the world.”

Aside from the well-thought-out plot, what I loved most about this book was definitely the characters . Even the secondary characters played a crucial role in the entire story, let alone the protagonists and antagonists. When Malik and his friends landed somewhere relatively safer than his hometown, they met Alayne’s teammates, coming to Malik’s rescue, and those people were truly…something else. Take Mujadin’s guards for another example, who would’ve guessed under his extreme control, his most trusted subordinate(s) would turn against him?

To my surprise, despite the fact that this book contained quite a lot of gory scenes and ugly facets of religious beliefs, there were still some funny banters among Malik’s friends and family.
Eliza rose to her feet. “I hope this doesn’t get you killed.”
He (Kafed) shrugged. “Malik is more likely to get killed than me at this point.”
I laughed. “Yep, that’s why I’ve even drafted my farewell. It’s mostly addressed to you though, Kafed.”
Eliza glared at me. “What, am I not worthy enough to be included?”
“Ehm. No.”

Ha! Both Eliza and Kafed had been the most loyal friends anyone could ever ask for and yet, Malik apparently thought differently between two of his best friends…
The door creaked open. “Malik?”
Kafed. He walked in with purpose, a vase of roses in his hand, and made his way toward me. We met each other’s eyes, and a silly grin formed on my best friend’s face. I found myself irresistibly following suit.
“Well, Malik. I brought you some exquisite…er, flowers. I thought they’d cheer you up. Look at these and not the mirror for a while, will ya?”

This one really cracked me up, no lie, and I’d kill for a hilarious friend like Kafed. Anyways, all I’m hoping is that the author won’t kill any of them off either by accident or on purpose—since my favorite characters had a tendency to die in this book—in the following sequels because I love them to death and it will certainly wreck me if they ceased to exist.

To sum up, Golden Skies was an extremely satisfying read for me. The plot design was perfect, the characters and background setting were flawless, and the entire pace of the story was really well done. Like I said before, this book was a splendid mixture of series like Throne of Glass, The Covenant, and The Winner’s Curse, with a touch of sci-fi elements and unforgettable religions, transforming a seemingly ordinary young adult sci-fi fantasy into a much more in-depth story. Thus, I cannot wait to read the next instalment and see what happen to my beloved characters. *fingers crossed*

Last but not least, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Golden Skies to everyone since it’s truly worthy of your time!!!

***Huge thanks to Owl Hollow Press and the author for sending me an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.***

[SHORT REVIEW: June 19, 2018]

I’m hooked.

First of all, I have to admit that I don't know what to expect when I start reading this book. All I know is that it's a sci-fi story, with some smart kids and jetpacks involved. So color me shock when I find myself completely fascinated by the intricate storyline and instantly-lovable characters. The level of brutality from Malik's father is totally beyond my imagination and it pains me just to witness all the gory moments. Moreover, what blows my mind is how bloody detailed the killing/torturing scenes are in the book. I am so NOT prepared to read those passages with inhumane treatments to those who disobey Malik's father, a.k.a. the tyrant; hence, it's like stabbing a knife into my heart and twisting it several times whenever I see someone get whipped or beaten almost to death. Honestly, I don't remember feeling anything so brutally real while reading so this book is really something else to me. Anyway, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Golden Skies to EVERYONE! Whether sci-fi is something you normally enjoy or not, I believe you'll be enchanted by this incredible novel full of originality and creativity.
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,510 reviews199 followers
June 17, 2018
After a very long time, I found a book in which I could dive into, living in that world of Certamen, in Malik's world, a boy who has seen religious zealousy, oppression at the hand of his father Governor Majidin. Refusing to bow down to his father's rules, Malik is thrown into the world of torture, whipped to an inch of his life, till he is rescued and he learns to fight... And man, does he fight!!! With gadgets which have a force field and allows him to fly!! Sweet!!

Juan Zapata's debut novel, and it is amazing to see the young author write in such a mature way. A sci-fi thriller is not easy to write, and it is extremely difficult for a reader to visualize the written word as a scene of a movie. But this young magician of an author has done it. I could see every word of this book, it ran like the scenes of a movie. It felt like those 3 dimensional, absolutely colorful, where everything is larger than life, and at the same time, connected to the emotions of life.
Every book is rounded when there are a range of emotions which it evokes, anger, helplessness, pity, hatred, love, adrenaline rush. The author has done it all, colored the book with all emotions. I lived the 4 hours in Malik's life, feeling what he feels, every emotion was felt acutely.
A fabulous sci-fi thriller
August 25, 2018
WOW, what a fantastic novel! When Shalini first told me about this novel, I thought it sounded good. I had no idea that it would be so intriguing and have me turning pages throughout the night. The world building was phenomenal and this was a Class A Sci-Fi novel that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre. The plot and story was compelling and unique. This novel was also filled with loads of adventure and is sure to captivate many! Hands down, 4.5 out of 5 shining stars! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
715 reviews407 followers
August 22, 2018
I don't like surprises in life but when it comes to books, it's a different story. That's why I LOVE this book. And that's saying a lot because I dislike religion in my reads (I don't even read Dan Brown's books). And the blurb clearly shows that religion is a big part of the story so I almost refuse being a part of the tour but thankfully I didn't. Because this one isn't just a story about a religion that's obviously doing terrible practices.

This is a story of a young man, Malik, who is willing to fight for his rights, freedom and of his city's against his father who is a ruthless leader and a devout follower of the man-god Safad. In short, Malik is fighting for peace and greater good along with her friends. I got to see his fight so early in the book which was great because I didn't have time to get bored and the pace just kept getting faster until the end. Malik and his friends with their preparations  and fight made every page entertaining and engaging. Obviously, I love the characters, not only Malik but everyone and I'm excited to meet them again in the next book.

For the first time in my reading life, I got to love religion as a plot point because it made the whole story more original and complex. It was really entertaining, action-packed and with a message we currently need in our world today. Speaking of world, this book is set in a fictional world Certamen and the world-building was fantastic. Just amazing.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's highly entertaining, fast-paced and undeniably well-written, and with complex characters that make every page a great reading experience. The only reason why I'm only giving it 4.5 stars because the opening scene seemed like forced. As if the dialogues were made only to reveal something to the reader and it almost put me off. But I think it's just me because like I said I was hesitant to read this one.

And I just need to add: My God, this author knows what he's doing. I wished I did an interview post  for him. (I'll make sure I will on his next book.) And he reminds me I need to write my own novel faster because really he's way younger than myself. He's still studying and already an author and where I am??? Hahaha...

So what do you guys think? I really, really want all of you to read this one. It's so good to be missed.

Anyway let's chat...
12 reviews
June 12, 2018
Although not a genre I usually pick up, I was pleased that Golden Skies has complex characters who you will care about and root for until the end. They contend with so many obstacles, from politics, to religion, to family dynamics, to mental illness, but strive to persevere in a world that has many fighting factions. I found myself thinking about the story even when I wasn't reading it. I'm excited that it is a trilogy! Zapata did a great job!
Profile Image for Erica.
120 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2018
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Violence, Strong Language, Women Abuse and Discrimination, Religious Beliefs

Review originally published at my blog for a tour: https://livingahundredlives.wordpress...

Golden Skies by Juan Zapata is a scifi and dystopian read that features the religious beliefs of the people in Atemhop. It actually reminded me of The Hunger Games Trilogy and my last read, The Gathering. Along with the two said books, this one tells the story of how Malik, the son of Mujadin, the conqueror of the city, became the face of rebellion.

This is a pretty unique read. Well, first, there’s the part of religion. It really is the main issue in the book. Safad, a self proclaimed man god rules the country. One of his trusted people is Mujadin, who I mentioned is the conqueror of Atemhop and the father of our MC, Malik. What struck me the most is how twisted Safad’s religion is. He rules among the people with violence and forces them to obey to his every command. It’s quite creepy and the scenes are pretty graphic so I advise readers to be cautious.

I admire Malik’s integrity. He fights for what he believes and is willing to do everything to keep his family and friends safe. Eliza, his sister became a good fighter too which was really awesome because hellooo, girl power! Each characters have their own roles in the upcoming war and I just wish that I’d get to know more about them. The main spotlight of the Golden Skies is the fight between Mujadin and the people of Atemhop.

It was a fast-paced read. It’s action-packed which makes the whole reading experience exciting. I admit that getting past the first chapters is a challenge because of the display of extreme violence but that’s what made Malik stronger. That’s what fueled the rebellion.

The use of foul language is what got into me. And how women are belittled. It was maddening and I really despised Safad’s followers because of it. They talk about women like they’re toys and pigs.

Still, it was a good read. Without knowing that it’s the first of a new trilogy, I think that Golden Skies would make a good standalone book. Overall, I rate Golden Skies by Juan Zapata, 3 out of 5 stars!

PS. The world here has 32 hours a day and I’m feeling jealous!

Profile Image for Megan Starkweather.
66 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2018
Adrenaline junkies beware, this book will get your pulse racing. The town of Atemhop relies on Malik Zzoha, a university dropout, the son of the governor, Mujadin, to save them from tyranny under Mujadin’s reign. First he must endure unimaginable, cringeworthy pain and suffering before being trained to be a fighter and leader. Banding together, Atemhop forms the Restoration to fight Mujadin and his troops under the influence of Safad al-Din. The heartbreak, torture, passion and action are surreal. Even the most stoic person will get choked up reading Golden Skies. My heart is still racing from the fast paced action.
Profile Image for Faizan.
414 reviews36 followers
June 17, 2018
I beta read the book..

It was amazing.

The story is fast-paced, but never skip over the important part.
With snarky dialogues to the motivated protagonist and the cold heart villain, the book has all the spices.

Try this, you will not regret it.
Profile Image for Darby Karchut.
Author 21 books254 followers
June 21, 2018
What a roller coaster of a story! While it was a bit gritty and dark for my taste, the world building and characters kept me reading, and the ending made up for every thing. Go pick up a copy!
Profile Image for Swati Hegde.
14 reviews77 followers
June 13, 2018
Note: I received an ARC from Owl Hollow Press in exchange for an honest review.

The thing about Golden Skies that appealed to me was its honest take on religion and tyranny. Not to mention the tongue-in-cheek humor, the solidarity between Malik and his friends, how the author stresses the importance of standing up for what is right, not what is easy... Okay, yeah, there's a lot I liked about Golden Skies.

Zapata is a skilled storyteller, and I know the next two books in the series are going to be just as good, if not better. I'm waiting with bated breath!
Profile Image for Graham.
68 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2019
Book Blurb: As a boy, Malik watched an army of religious zealots swarm his home town, slaughtering his people and running his beloved grandfather through with a black sword. Nine years later, Malik still believes there's peace...somewhere. At least that's what he tells himself as his body is ripped apart by whips at a conversion camp. That's what his best friend whispers as he frantically creates new force technology and jetpacks to rescue Malik. Yet when war bursts through the skies and the sky troopers, assassins, and heroes fall, when the world comes crashing down, Malik Zzoha stands amidst the sands to lead a band of friends and revolutionaries to face his tyrannical, zealot father, determined to free the people he loves.

Author Bio: Juan Zapata is a senior at Alabama A&M, expected to graduate December 2018. He majors in Criminal Justice and is a member of the AAMU Honors Program. Born in Mexico, Juan came to the United States at four years old. When he is not writing, Juan likes to play For Honor and pretend he's a knight, laughing with happiness at his victories and nearly having aneurisms when defeated.
“Let her go!” I shrieked, attempting to leap forward. I doubled over in pain as the guards holding me struck me in the gut. Tears of anguish brimmed at my eyes. “I…won’t serve anyone!” I spat on the ground, screaming. “Safad isn’t a god! He’s nothing!”
The guards holding me suddenly let go, taken aback. Silence rang forth from the crowd and rapidly descended upon the entire square.
Mujadin looked at me, speechless.
“Safad isn’t holy! He’s a man who pisses and shits like everyone else. His laws are hogwash. You kill for nothing! You are nothing! You’re a liar, scum, a deceiver. All your life fighting for some sick charlatan!” I yelled, feeling blood rush to my face, popping out the veins on my throat and forehead.
I didn’t truly know if I believed what I was saying, but Kafed had echoed my own thoughts on the subject countless times; he believed that Safad wasn’t divine—that he’d tricked others with his ‘miracles’ to gain power and keep it. Everything that was happening was because of that narcissistic, deceiving man-god my father worshipped.
No one in the crowd moved or spoke. The soldiers around me leveled their weapons at my head. The penalty for denying Safad’s divinity was death. I tightened my fists. If this was to end in a hail of bullets, at least I’d diverted attention from those about to be executed, my sister, and Kafed.
Mujadin put up a trembling hand, ordering the men to hold their fire. A deadly whisper. “No. No. He will suffer.”
A short, quiet pause rang forth, then suddenly, I lost control of my body and fell to the concrete ground, pain exploding from every nerve. I’d been struck by stun weapons.
My vision blurred, light entering my pupils in bursts. For one second I saw my father’s stony face, the next the feet of guards, the crowd staring at me, the sea-green sky, my sister weeping on the ground, Kafed flanked by guards.
Soldiers grabbed each of my arms and hoisted me to my knees. Time seemed to slow as I got my bearings, blinking at the crowd, then the air was sliced in two, the sound of a whip whistling before it hit its mark.
Tongues of fire lit up my back, pulling a heinous scream from my throat. My muscles tightened like knots, fresh air eating away at my raw flesh. Red engulfed my vision, and the air thundered and rippled. Wapash! My forearms tensed, and I cried out, trembling. The flames returned again and again, one lash after the other, ceaseless. The sky darkened, and the blistering heat disappeared. My flesh shredded apart in lines, pulled off my muscles in crisscrossing patterns, my blood flowing out, dripping onto the stone. The leather gouged deep into me with each lick. I could hardly breathe.
My tear-filled eyes stared blankly to those below the platform and rested upon a man below me, just one of the many among thousands. White skin. Blond hair. A Northeasterner? My eyes widened at the woman beside him—fiery red locks flared out behind a scarlet mask. Piercing blue eyes drank me in. I expected hostility from them but found shock instead. Sympathy. Conflict within these foreigners. And then they were gone, replaced by black. A last shuddering breath, another crack, and darkness took me.

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Profile Image for Jolie.
1,517 reviews36 followers
August 22, 2018
I like science fiction books, even though I have found myself burnt out on reading them. I noticed that most science fiction books follow a set plotline. I was growing bored with reading those types of books. So when my friend and fellow blogger, Shalini, referred me to Golden Skies, I almost didn’t accept. I didn’t like the blurb and didn’t think that I would like the story. Well, I was proven wrong. Golden Skies is one of the best science fiction books that I have read this year.

Golden Skies is the story about Malik, the rebellious son of a religious fanatic. After defying his father in public, Malik is taken to a religious conversion camp. He is tortured to the point where he wants to accept the religion his father is a fanatic about. But, he doesn’t. Instead, he meets a beautiful Northeasterner, Alayne. Alayne gives Malik the strength to stay alive. But a tragic accident takes Alayne from Malik. Malik is released from the camp. He is changed but not in the way that his father wanted. After crossing his father one last time, Malik is on the run with his sister, best friend, and best friend’s father. Picked up by a squad of Northeastern space marines, Malik learns that he is part of a prophecy. Can he lead his people to peace? Or will he fail?

I liked Malik. I did fear for his life during parts of the book. At the beginning of the book, he was reckless. He refused to bow to his father. That whole scene on the stage made me sad because while Malik did what was right, he still got punished. He showed me, as a reader, what he was made of when he refused to bow under the torture that Dia and Baqir put him through. What he endured would have killed someone lesser. Everything that he endured shaped him into the man that he became at the end of the book.

This is a bloody book. There is a lot of graphic violence portrayed here. I am fine with graphic violence. Sometimes it is needed to get a point across. In this case, it was needed as the whole religion that Malik’s father followed allowed it. And Malik’s father used it to keep his village in line. Later on in the book, there is war. Unfortunately, you can’t write a war without some violence.

This book is also very fast paced. It starts off fast and keeps the pace up throughout the book. I was surprised by that. If a book starts off fast-paced, it tends to slow down towards the end. Not this book. Nope, not at all.

I also loved the science fiction aspect of the book. The jetpacks and the technology that the space marines used was awesome!! I told BK that I wanted a jetpack of my own…lol.

The secondary characters in Golden Skies made the book. Eliza, Minerva, Baqir, Onyx, Duvesk, Henry, Cyrus, Kafed, and Viola. They took Malik’s story and made it shine. Some I didn’t like. Some I mourned. And still, some I did a fist bump when they realized their worth.

The end of Golden Skies is what I thought it would be. There were loss and betrayal. But there was also hope. Except for Malik’s father, none of the storylines were ended. In fact, with the last chapter, the author left enough said that I knew book 2 was coming.
812 reviews31 followers
August 15, 2018
Golden Skies is a thrilling and gripping debut novel by Juan Zapata. The story is about the fight for justice, the fight for freedom, and the fight for rights.

The story starts on a gore and violent note - the merciless whipping and torturing was heart-wrenching! No matter how bad the torture and the pain was, Malik was resilient. And that is what made him fight for justice.

I loved the blend of technology, religion, friendship, and politics. Wings of Heaven (jetpacks), swords, force fields, evil-godman - woohoo, excellent combination of the good and the bad.

The story is full of twists and turns. The trio - Kafed, Malik, and Eliza plan to escape Atemhop when Cyrus (Kafed's father) and Minerva (Kafed's mother) tells them about their 'secret group'. They plan to eliminate Mujadin - Mailk's father and ardent follower of Safad (evil godman). I loved it, even more, when the northeastern troops rescued the trio and Cyrus during the ambush and military-trained them in 5 days. And the best of the best was when Onyx, one of the northeastern troopers and an assassin did something unbelievable! There is more to it than it meets the eye!

The violet moon, the harsh sun, 32 hours in a day - these details made the story even more interesting. And what do I tell you about Kafed! He's a genius! From building jetpacks to cracking silly jokes, even in serious situations, this guy was a power-package! I like the way the friendship between Mailk and Kafed is portrayed. I also liked the relationship that Malik had with his sister, mother, grandfather and Kafed's parents.

Each character in the story plays a unique role in the story. Be it Alayna, Henry or even the beggar (in the end), for that matter. I loved the story, minus the torture. I will definitely read the other two books in The New Order Trilogy.
Profile Image for Riya.
1 review
July 7, 2018
Set in a fantasy world, Golden Skies tackles a lot of real world problems including but not limited to religious zealousy, male chauvinism, and tyranny.
Malik is an young adult who is tired of his father's oppressive behavior and obsession with a man God that rules over them. He decides to stand up to the cruelty committed in the name of said man God, only to be sent into a conversion camp. The story then unfolds and introduces new characters from across other parts of Certamen, along with their superior technology. Zapata's writing is perfectly paced and keeps you on your toes. It's not too fast to make it unrealistic nor is it too slow that it makes you claw your brain out. It's action packed and gives you just as much an adrenaline high as any good book should. Golden Skies, as part of a trilogy, sets a good preface and gives a taste of the complexity of the characters. Aside from having a shared goal, we also get to see the budding relationships between several characters which gives more emotion to the story. The finale held so much "bated breath" moments and honestly, I was personally pretty pleased with that expected yet completely surprizing way it came to an end. Give it a read, you won't regret wasting hours sitting with a cup of cocoa and the book in hand.

I feel lucky to have already gotten my hands on the sequel as a beta reader and can't wait to finish the trilogy.
Profile Image for Clara Nightingale.
Author 3 books4 followers
June 12, 2018
Juan Zapata effortlessly weaves together a novel of action, suspense, and the pursuit of freedom. You are thrust into a world of tyrannical oppression at the hands of someone close to Malik. The stakes are high and the tensions higher. I loved the story from beginning to end and I'm sure you will too. Golden Skies is an excellent book for any age or gender. The action is realistic and the characters each have their own distinct voice.

Malik was by far my favorite character, although Kafed almost came close. Juan Zapata creates a beautiful chaotic world that gets you immediately hooked. My emotions ran high with every flip of the page and I was truly sorry to reach the end.

To find a story high in heart stopping action and heart wrenching emotion is rare. There are times of hilarity amidst all the chaos and I find that made the story that much more realistic. Zapata incorporates many emotions in his novel and you will get a first person view on Malik's entire world and what it truly means to stand up and say no.

Absolutely beautiful in its entirety. You won't find another book so riveted on the depths of the human condition.

Looking forward to the sequel!!
Profile Image for Clara Nightingale.
Author 3 books4 followers
June 12, 2018
Juan Zapata effortlessly weaves together a novel of action, suspense, and the pursuit of freedom. You are thrust into a world of tyrannical oppression at the hands of someone close to Malik. The stakes are high and the tensions higher. I loved the story from beginning to end and I'm sure you will too. Golden Skies is an excellent book for any age or gender. The action is realistic and the characters each have their own distinct voice.

Malik was by far my favorite character, although Kafed almost came close. Juan Zapata creates a beautiful chaotic world that gets you immediately hooked. My emotions ran high with every flip of the page and I was truly sorry to reach the end.

To find a story high in heart stopping action and heart wrenching emotion is rare. There are times of hilarity amidst all the chaos and I find that made the story that much more realistic. Zapata incorporates many emotions in his novel and you will get a first person view on Malik's entire world and what it truly means to stand up and say no.

Absolutely beautiful in its entirety. You won't find another book so riveted on the depths of the human condition.

Looking forward to the sequel!!
Profile Image for Maya (Bookshot).
91 reviews8 followers
August 23, 2018
Well narrated piece of work by a young writer. When you read this book, the scenes will pop up infront of your eyes. Juan’s narrative is very strong and impressive. Me as an avid reader always love to read such books.

Characters are developed in such a way that the reader will literally start to hate villains and love the good hearted ones. Every character is important in this novel. They have their own roles to play. The hero is not shown as a supernatural being. The author has chosen a very practical approach while describing the protagonist, Malik. You will feel Malik’s struggles to rise up for the truth he believes in. He is nothing without his friends, relatives and well wishers.

Some torture scenes have been ellaborated very intensively. I am that sort of person who skips torture scenes even in movies. I appreciate the writing skills of author to the core.

First half of the novel was very gripping. After that it was almost predictable. But that will not stop you from reading the entire book. Even though we can foresee the end, there will be always a curiousity as of how situation may take turns.
Profile Image for Plum Report (Kimberly).
63 reviews7 followers
August 8, 2018
Note: I received an ARC from Owl Hollow Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Owl Hollow Press💜

This book is a must read if you like military and science fiction. A domino effect of events that takes place on another world and delivers a clear and powerful message about the freedom of choice. With this being Juan Zapata's debut novel, he delivers an entertaining story packed with persecution, adventure, new alliances, and retribution.

I enjoyed the story and the message of the book. The one downside I noticed was the use of Earth lingo and slang that I wouldn't expect to hear or see on another world. But other than that, the story moved me and I cannot wait to read book 2 of The New Order Trilogy!

Read my full review at the Plum Report here: https://plumreport.com/2018/08/golden...

- Kimberly at the Plum Report💜

1 review
June 14, 2018
What does Juan Zapata, S.E Hinton, and Mary Shelley have in common?
They all wrote superb novels while balancing college life.

Juan Zapata, a new author of Golden Skies, book one of The New Order trilogy, writes an enticing, action-packed fiction that is impossible to put down. Juan crafts a compelling story of Malik, who struggles through life hurdles of tyranny and oppression, friendship and family, and perseverance and tenacity. The book immerses the reader and forces them to understand Malik's conflicts.

Looking forward to books two and three of the trilogy.
Profile Image for Jessica Belmont.
1,483 reviews47 followers
August 21, 2018
I can think of a few words to describe Golden Skies; refreshing, original, action-packed, and enjoyable.

First of all, I’m overly impressed with the idea that this is Juan Zapata’s debut novel. This sci-fi thriller is everything I’m hoping for one I pick up this genre.

The plot was fast paced and in your face, bold. Malik is surviving things we could not even imagine. Opression and torture. But, once he learns to fight, his fate changes. I love that about his character, and another testament to Zapata’s writing talent.

I really loved this scifi thriller and highly recommend it!

*I received this book as part of a blog tour. All opinions are my own.*
Profile Image for Nicky Skene.
126 reviews
July 6, 2018
A story of camaraderie, a son - Malik - stands up to his father a tyrannical ruler and religious zealot. Malik withstands torture and attempted brain washing, escapes with the help of his sister and best friend and vowed to end his fathers rule, bring peace and religious freedom back to his city.
A fast moving story with well written and relatable characters, action throughout - what more could you ask for! An excellent first part to a trilogy - I look forward to the second instalment.
Profile Image for Serena Thompson.
3 reviews1 follower
June 14, 2018
Golden Skies was a truly fascinating book that is hard to put down, weaving many different themes into a wonderful story. I can't wait for the next installment in the trilogy!
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 4 books18 followers
September 13, 2018
When I first heard about Golden Skies, I was interested in the premise as it was definitely unlike any sci-fi book that I had read before and this was something that translated on the page. Golden Skies is a unique and deeply fascinating sci-fi story that is worth the read.

Although there were many positives about the book there were also things that I didn't love. From the get-go, I felt kind of uncomfortable with the links with Islamic extremism that I saw in the book. Maybe this was not the point but I did see it in the story and I don't know it didn't sit right with me but I know the author had beta readers so it might have been for this reason. I also had problems with the writing at times a lot of the sentences were short which threw me off and I didn't love some of the language used but it did not affect the story that much.

I also did like the writing at times especially for a debut author, it was good sometimes and I do think that it was there for the characters who were flawed and would have used the language that was written. I also did like Malik as the main character and he was a complex character in his actions and he believed in all the actions that he took. The book also really doesn't have a focus on romance which I also really enjoyed and it didn't take away from the story at hand that didn't need and have time for romance.

The story is also captivating and is fast-paced. I wanted to continue reading as I had no idea where the story was going and this is quite unusual for me as I find a lot of plots to be predictable. I really also enjoyed the end, it ended neatly and didn't really need a sequel so if it is a stand-alone then that is great as you don't find many of them. If there is a sequel I would be more than happy to read it and find out where the story progresses.

The Verdict:

Golden Skies is a book that captures the mind and is a great first debut book with few flaws.
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