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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Ruffian is a work in the science fiction, action, and political thriller subgenres by Leia Barko. It is intended for the young adult audience but can also be enjoyed by adult readers. In this dark and gritty work of science fiction, we find ourselves watching the coming together of two unlikely allies in a quest to bring down the source of a dangerous pandemic. Astra Hal is a Ruffian, a secret society member sent to track down the true source of the problem when the young Hendric Sanjor’s political family is accused. The two find compatible differences, making them a powerful team to weave through the web of secrets and lies and discover the ugly truth.
Leia Barko has crafted a sophisticated and exciting work of suspense with a lot of high-concept science fiction, and it pays off to form an accomplished YA novel that will stand the test of time. I loved the unique premise, and there is a clear and detailed dedication to worldbuilding, from the intricate political systems of the global world powers through to the Ruffians and what they do to preserve order when humanity loses control of itself. In addition, the dynamic between Hendric and Astra is superb, with sharp dialogue and apparent, distinct personality clashes that work beautifully for the atmosphere but also the progression of the plot, and their bond. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Ruffian to fans of hard sci-fi that is accessible to both YA and adult readers.