XODUS by KJ McPike (Audiobook Review + Author Interview)

XODUS: The Astralis Series, Book 1 - K. J. McPike, Natalie Hoyt, Terracotta Rose Publishing in association with Fuzzy Hedgehog Press
A YA Contemporary Fantasy centered on a strong but struggling family.

The first time it happened, Lali Yavari told herself it was just a dream. But when she starts flashing between realities during the day and seeing people disappear before her very eyes, she can't deny that something is happening to her - something she's sure is linked to her mother's disappearance.  Then the unsettling Kai Awana shows up at school, and Lali discovers she has inherited her mother's ability to astral project - with a surprising twist. Not only that, but Kai needs her help to get to a world she never knew existed. In exchange, Kai promises to help Lali find her mom using his own unique ability.

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SERIES INFO: This is Book #1 in the “Astralis” series. According to the author, “I anticipate three main books in the Astralis series, as well as a few companion novels from different perspectives. That could always change because I love playing in the Astralis story world, but that's the plan for now.” She also reports that, “The first companion novel is called Nemesis, and it will come out this summer. (Yay!) The second book in the main series—tentatively titled Tenuous—will be out this winter. (Double yay!)"


Lali: Abandoned by her mother, disbelieved by her father, strong armed by Kai - she seemingly has no good options. She's just trying to keep it together for her younger siblings.


Kai: A complex character whose morals are very much in question. It will be interesting to read the "companion novel" from his perspective.


Lali & Kai: This is a very complicated relationship between two people who have a lot of problems. I will have to hold judgement on whether it could ever turn into something romantic and good, or not.

The beginning was an excellent one. Mystery, peril, and emotion. The ending resolves one situation but should definitely be considered a cliffhanger.


It seems that the Yavari family would have been a great one to be part of, before things started falling apart. I would have liked to get more glimpses of the time before.


This is one of those books where I will have to read the next one to decide fully how I feel about this one, since the ending changes many things. It's also one where I can't include many of my comments in order to avoid spoilers.


NARRATION: I liked her narration. / I listened on my usual 1.25 speed / Acceptable accents & male voices.

FAVORITE PART(S): The whole thing about not wanting to use “the boys’ bathroom.” This was totally how it was in my large family.

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Infrequent use of the Lord’s name in vain. Other mild swearing. / I struggled with all the strange names, it might have been easier if I had read the book rather than listened.  (It turns out there is a reason for the names though.  You can read about this in the bonus interview.)

--Narration: AVERAGE
--Enjoyment: AVERAGE - it helped me get through a tedious road trip.
--Re-readability: AVERAGE - I definitely want to listen to it at least one more time, now that certain revelations have come out.

I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review.

XODUS by KJ McPike; read by Natalie Hoyt; produced independently in 2015 / Length: 10 hrs 6 min (Unabr) / Available through Audible & Amazon plus iTunes




Tell us something about your lead character(s) that we don't already know. [Exclusive]

Well, it's no surprise that Lali is under a lot of stress when we meet her in XODUS, but I think readers might be surprised to know that as a result of that stress and the betrayal she feels after her mother leaves, Lali acts out of her usual character throughout the story. She's definitely more hesitant to trust and quicker to jump to conclusions because she's constantly trying to figure out what's going on in other people's heads after she failed to realize her mother was going through something big enough to cause her to leave. I think it's understandable, but probably a lot harder for readers to see because they meet her after the fact and don't have a clear idea of who Lali was before all of this happened to her.


How did you choose/come up with your lead character(s) name(s)?

Painfully! No, I'm kidding...sort of. I knew early on that I needed their names to start with certain letters, and I needed an "x" to fall in certain places in their names (for reasons I cannot reveal just yet). Not surprisingly, it was very difficult to come up with a name that started with a "u" and had "x" as the fourth letter. It took weeks of playing with charts of Hangman-style missing letters to figure out Ulyxses. Salaxia just kind of came to me, and by some miracle, the "x" was in the right spot. The other character names were a bit easier. I met a little girl named Xitlali when I was still working in Early Childhood Education, and I think Oxanna and Dixon are fairly common names...right?


Audiobook / eBook / Paperbooks? Which is your favorite and why?

You know, a few months ago, I would've said paper books all the way, but I have recently grown to love audiobooks, as well. I love that I can listen to them while I do chores or while I'm walking places. (Truth be told, I have been known to read and walk, but it generally results in me turning an ankle at some point...) I think paper books are still my official favorite, but audiobooks are a close second.


Tell us something about yourself that we might not already know.

I love to juggle! I taught a bunch of my college friends how to juggle, too, and then made them learn partner tricks so we could show off our passing back and forth skills and make more of our friends want to learn. You could say I was a little too excited to share.


Readers can learn more about me at www.kjmcpike.com.