Hello friends! This is stop #11 on the Operation Lionhearted blog tour, and I’m back with a five-star review of Maribeth Barber’s debut novel!
There are very few books that have captured my heart as much as Operation Lionhearted did, and even fewer I have nothing negative to say about. But Operation Lionhearted is one of them! In a captivating, heart-wrenching story that powerfully explores the themes of friendship, courage, and facing one’s past, the reader is whisked away on a wild ride that leaves you wanting more!
Rating: 5 Stars
Her planet’s future is at stake…but her past is on the line.
Lindy Tremaine is proud of her work with the Meridian Intelligence Department. Clever, courageous, and armed with an uncanny intuition, she is determined to protect the planets of the Kellan Star System from villains and schemers, even if it means going undercover as a fashion journalist.
Tragedy, however, lies beneath Lindy’s self-possessed demeanor. She is an empath, a native of the war-torn Valya, and the man responsible for her mother’s death—the former prince Rael Navorre—still rules her home planet with an iron hand. Haunted by fragmented memories of bloodshed, Lindy refuses to revisit Valya or embrace her heritage, preferring to invest in her career and her adopted family.
But now Lindy and her best friend, Jo Camrin, have received the most daunting assignment of their MID careers: they must protect Valya’s exiled royal family during peace negotiations with Rael. Committed to this mission despite her fears, Lindy soon uncovers a web of lies and technological horrors…as well as the best-kept secret in the Star System.
I loved everything about Operation Lionhearted, but the characters are what really stood out to me. Each of them was so complex—no one was completely white or black, which made them all the more interesting.
Lindy was such a captivating character, and I loved being inside her head. She’s responsible, kind, and caring, yet she also has a little bit of fire in her that endeared me to her. Some of my very favorite scenes were when she stood up to Mariamne. They made me laugh!
And yet, though she has that lighter side to her, she’s faced plenty of pain. My heart ached for all the trauma and loss she went through, but I admired her courage so much. Her internal struggle felt very real and sympathetic, and I’m proud of her for pushing past her fear and refusing to let the past enslave her. In short, Lindy embodies everything a great protagonist should be!
Ethan was the sweetest, and I shipped him and Lindy from the start! I loved that he was so kind and understanding toward Lindy and really listened to her. I loved that they both had each other’s back and that their relationship grew stronger through the adventures and trials they faced together.
Ah, Jo. Can I just say she is the best sidekick ever? I love how snarky and fun she is, yet she’s also wise and isn’t afraid to remind Lindy of the hard truth when she needs it. Her character voice fit her perfectly and made me laugh! I love how protective Jo is of Lindy and how patient Lindy is with Jo. Their friendship is the best kind—the iron sharpening iron kind. They both bring different strengths to the table and work to build each other up.
Margaret Tremaine was an interesting character—although she was supportive of Lindy, I wasn’t always sure what to expect from her next, which definitely made things interesting!
Maribeth is a master storyteller. She knows how to tell a heart story and do it in an engaging way that doesn’t drag the plot. I was drawn in right from the beginning and immediately felt immersed in the rich storyworld. While Maribeth raised a lot of questions that kept me reading, she also answered just enough so that the story still made sense. I could really feel the emotional intensity and high stakes as the story progressed, and I couldn’t stop reading!
Maribeth did a great job balancing the pacing. I loved all the political intrigue, and I appreciated that she incorporated it in a way that didn’t slow the plot down. She somehow managed to weave in all the necessary world-building and contextual details without info-dumping, which isn’t easy to do with such a complex world and backstory.
Just when I thought I knew how everything was going to turn out, Maribeth would twist the plot slightly so I was always kept on my toes! Although I guessed the twist about Lindy, I never saw the other one coming, which pleasantly surprised me! The climax was intense and realistic, while still ending on a beautiful, hopeful note. And the ending scene was so sweet and poignant. I was sad when it ended!
The sci-fi details were both vivid and realistic. I don’t know a lot about sci-fi technology, but I could definitely tell Maribeth knew what she was talking about and had done her research.
I loved all the creative worldbuilding details Maribeth came up with, especially the Valyan gift of emotional empathy and their emphasis on physical touch for bonding. It was so intriguing and definitely added depth to the story.
The themes of friendship, courage, and sacrifice are common overarching themes seen in science fiction, but what sets Operation Lionhearted apart is the Christian undertone. I loved how Maribeth laced the timeless truths of the gospel through her story, but not in a way that was overly obvious or preachy.
I loved watching Lindy grow and mature as she learned to face her past and accept who she truly was. Instead of running from her pain, she chose to embrace it as part of God’s good plan for her, although that looked different from what she had imagined. That’s something I’ve struggled with before, so it hit close to home for me!
I absolutely loved the dialogue in Operation Lionhearted. I don’t often find such quality dialogue in YA fiction, but Maribeth’s was so good! I loved the witty bantering between characters and how smoothly and seamlessly she wove in important information into the dialogue without it sounding like it was only there for the reader’s benefit.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of space operas like Star Wars and Star Trek or you’ve never picked up a sci-fi book before, this is a story you won’t want to miss. With rich dialogue, unforgettable characters, and gripping action, Operation Lionhearted will stay with you long after you’ve put it down!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway Maribeth is running. It ends tomorrow! And if you haven’t already, make sure to preorder the e-book copy of Operation Lionhearted before the price goes up on October 14th.