Series: Starflight #1
Published by Disney Hyperion
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
The basics: Starflight is exciting, action packed, with a great cast of characters and a cool, different sort of sci fi setting!
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book considering that sci-fi is not my go-to genre! But with that gorgeous cover and enticing description, I couldn’t resist. You’re thrown right into the action and into Solara’s predicament which is the best way to start a book; it’s fast paced throughout without sacrificing world-building or character arcs.
I think my favorite aspect of Starflight’s world was that Earth hadn’t been decimated by aliens, or beset by a natural disaster; humans weren’t forced to flee their home planet. It feels like a few hundred years in the future, if space exploration was driven by the discovery of new fuels and metals. Texas still exists for example, but you can also travel to other planets and the outer rim; you can rub elbows with alien species but it all feels wonderfully familiar.
The technology is newer (and cooler), the world is larger, but you can picture our future evolving this way. No WALL-E environmental disasters or 5th Wave apocalypses here. There are still reasons to leave Earth but it’s the familiar economical and classes struggles… IN SPACE! It made it feel different from other sci fi settings I’ve read. This isn’t the end of the world, but more like exploration, going out to conquer the unknown while keeping a home base.
The other thing I loved was the mix of characters. Solara is really awesome, sort of a Cinder-meets-Jack Sparrow and Doran is the wooooorst at first (but handsome of course). But like all awesome romances and character arcs, there is more to each of them than what appears and I loved the slow burn move from loathing to begrudging friendship and attraction. Landers did an excellent job of making you actually like Doran and it was interesting to learn about Solara’s past.
I haven’t watched Firefly (something I need to remedy) but from what I know of the show, I think the comparison is right on. There’s a Guardians of the Galaxy-meets- Star Wars Rebels vibe (sans aliens), this hodge podge of personalities on the ship that Solara and Doran find themselves on, and it leads to some great moments. I loved how they worked together and fought like a family.
There’s a hilarious carnival scene on a distant planet, a bloody fistfight for a pirate bride, politics, a few twists, lots of secrets, and a lot of close calls. The entire book was exciting, filled with tension and breakneck pacing; you could feel the authorities and space pirates breathing down their necks!
My main complaint is that the last quarter of the book felt a little rushed, and the twists stretched the bounds of believability. It was a bit cliche. At the same time, the book was funny, a little sexy, and entertaining enough that I could excuse its faults and roll with the story.
Starflight is a standalone but there is a companion novel coming out next year; the characters it will feature weren’t my favorites but I think their story could be compelling so I’m interested to see where it will go and what other characters might show up! If you want rip roaring action (in space), laaaadies kicking ass (in space), kissing (in space), and don’t mind a cliche here and there, read Starflight! You won’t be disappointed.