The 5th Gender
by G. L. Carriger
A species that has no word for murder, has a murderer aboard their spaceship.
Tristol lives in exile. But he’s built a life for himself aboard a human space station. He’s even begun to understand the complex nuances of human courting rituals.
Detective Hastion is finally flirting back!
Except that Tristol’s beloved space station is unexpectedly contacted by the galoi – a xenophobic species with five genders, purple skin, and serious attitude. They need the help of a human detective because there’s a murderer aboard their spaceship. Murder is so rare, the galoi don’t even have a word for it.
Tristol knows this because he is galoi.
Which means that he and Detective Hastion are on the case… together.
Contains men who love other men in graphic detail, regardless of gender, biology, or skin color… and lots of emotively sexy tentacle hair.
This is quite possibly the cutest sci-fi novel in the world.
I’m not kidding, The 5th Gender has cavity-inducing levels of sweetness, so if you’re not a fan of that in your sci-fi then this probably isn’t the book for you. This is a Gail Carriger book, though, so if you’re familiar with her work then you should know what you’re letting yourself in for – Carriger is the kind of author I always turn to when I want something I know is going to make me smile.
Tristol is galoi, an alien species rarely seen outside his home planet, living on a spaceship amongst humans and other aliens alike following his exile – an exile that he chose due to his lifestyle choices. Tristol also happens to have a huge crush on the human Detective Drey Hastion, who doesn’t seem to like Tristol all that much, but when the two of them are assigned to work a murder case together Tristol finally has the chance to win the detective over.
Tristol himself isn’t a detective, but a murder has been committed on a galoi ship – something unheard of, as the galoi don’t even have a word for ‘murder’ – and Tristol is needed to act as an interpreter of sorts so Drey can do his job.
The most important thing you need to know about this book is that Tristol is freaking adorable. He’s a little ball of sunshine wrapped up in the body of a hella gay alien, and I think the book’s worth reading just for him alone. I want to adopt him. He’s so cute.
I also really liked the direction the mystery took in this novel, which ended up having a rather serious, thought-provoking conclusion. Carriger explores ideas of consent and how difficult it can be to be the person you know you are when you’re surrounded by friends and family who want you to be someone else. The murder victim’s story is incredibly poignant.
That part of the story was juxtaposed by Tris and Drey’s romance, which actually took over the plot a little too much for me. The two of them seemed to fall in love very quickly and spent quite a bit of the book in bed together – if you’re not a fan of reading sex scenes, this book probably isn’t your cup of tea! – and while reading about sex doesn’t bother me, I was hoping their romance would be a bit more of a slow-burn. A little like Alexia and Conall in Soulless, who spent a bit more of their story testing the waters and dancing around one another.
In a way I like that Carriger doesn’t beat around the bush – this is a romance; we know the two of them are going to end up together, so why waste time getting to the point? – but, for me personally, the waiting is the best part. I love those ‘will they, won’t they?’ slow-burn stories full of sexual tension, so when characters are immediately in love in a romance book I’m always a little disappointed.
There were also moments when the book could have benefited simply from having a quick scene change. For example, one moment they’d be discussing how terrible the murder was with the aliens who knew the victim personally, and the next minute they’d be calling each other ‘baby’ and talking about how much they wanted to be together in front of the victim’s friends and family. I know I’m reading a book about aliens, but that felt just a tad too unrealistic for me. Even in the realm of Carriger’s joyous books I expect characters to know that it’s probably inappropriate to start flirting while they’re in the middle of a murder investigation.
All that aside, this is a very quick and fun read with very likeable characters – especially Tristol, who is a cinnamon roll of the highest order and must be protected at all costs.