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The Tracks We Leave (The Stepuli Chronicles: Book 1) by Maggie Maxwell



Date of publication: December 1st, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

Series: The Stepuli Chronicles

The Tracks We Leave—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stasia is a woman unmoored. Abandoned as a baby, she has little sense of who she is or where she belongs in the world. Seeking the answers, she jumps at a job opportunity in Washington. There, she meets Jack, a mysterious neighbor who is raising his younger sister and brother. Stasia is charmed by the family next door but finds their walls may be too high to climb.

Jack is fighting against the mysterious US government organization trying to bury him and his family. Born to an alien heritage, he works against a corrupt treaty to raise his sister and brother the best he can. When a human neighbor moves in next door, he feels his families secret, and freedom, are threatened.

Jack and Stasia soon learn their similarities may eclipse their differences. That they may be exactly what the other needs. And the government will learn the unfathomable lengths both humans and aliens will go to for those they love.

First Line:

The probe moved inside me, invading me. Violating me. My lower abdomen cramped at the pressure.

The Tracks We Leave by Maggie Maxfield

Before I start my review, I am changing my review style again. I have been reading reviews published pre-Covid and liked how they flow. So, I am going back to that style. I might change it up again. Example of the writing style I am talking about, click here.

And now, onto today’s highly anticipated review!

Stasia has moved to Washington, hoping to find herself. Abandoned as a baby and shuttled from foster home to foster home growing up, she has no sense of who she is or where she belongs. So, accepting a nursing job at a small military base seems perfect for her. But, as she gets settled into her new job and life, she learns that the base and the island it is on have a secret. This secret is so explosive that the government will silence anyone with knowledge. And part of that secret is Stasia’s grumpy, hot next-door neighbor, Jack, and his younger brother and sister. What is the secret? How are Jack and his family involved?

There are trigger warnings in The Tracks We Leave. They are off-page childhood sexual abuse, child abandonment (off-page), death of a parent (s) (Jack and his siblings’ mother, Jack’s father), internment, medical trauma (moderate to explicit), medical content (moderate to explicit), mental illness (moderate), forced pregnancy, and forced insemination (graphic). I highly suggest not reading this book if any of these triggers you.

Stasia’s backstory broke my heart. What she had to overcome to get to the point she was at now was amazing. Her empathic abilities were showcased from the beginning of the book. It made sense why she went into nursing.

I understood why Jack was so angry all the time. He was dealing with pressure from the government, his family, and his community. He was forced to do things no normal person would be pressured into doing to keep his family safe. I got sick when I saw how life was for him and the others. And honestly, I had no issue believing that the government would do that.

The storyline with Stasia, her job, Jack, his family, and what was happening at the military base was exciting and heartbreaking. The day-to-day of her nursing job on the military base was interesting but boring. But it got very interesting when she got into the top-secret program. Add in her relationship (or lack thereof) with Jack and his family, and things get very interesting.

Jack’s backstory, relationship with his family and Stasia, and relationship with the government were fascinating. Jack was willing to do anything to keep his sister out of the program all of the island’s children entered. He also wasn’t very trusting of anyone outside of his community, leading to some unfortunate misconceptions about Stasia initially. His relationship with his siblings was strained because Jack had to be a mother and father to both of them, which led to some resentment. He hated the government, and with good reason. The things he was forced to do for the head honcho were disgusting.

There was a romance angle to The Tracks We Leave, but the author didn’t precisely focus on it initially. Instead, she chose to lay the groundwork for Stasia and Jack’s storylines. When that was finished, then the romance began.

The science fiction angle of The Tracks We Leave was unique. The author took the Roswell crash and put her spin on it. I would have believed it if I had heard about this on one of those UFO shows. That is how believable it was. I also had no issue thinking that the government was doing forced breeding to get a certain thing and that Stasia would be just another statistic to them.

The end of The Tracks We Leave left me pretty upset. There was a death that I didn’t see coming, and it shook me. I was a little suspicious about that person until a few scenes before. Then there was the scene with Stasia and what was revealed about her. My heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces over what was revealed. I’m not going to go much further into the ending. I will say this; I hope I get to read book two because I need to find out what will happen. The author left it on a cliffhanger, grrrr.

I would recommend The Tracks We Leave to anyone over 21. There is moderate to explicit violence, moderate language, and mild sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings.

Many thanks to Novel Cause and Magge Maxfield for allowing me to read and review The Tracks We Leave. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Tracks We Leave, then you will enjoy reading these books:

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