Disastrous. That’s how I’d describe this book.
Badly written and contrived, you may be inclined to consider this a “How Not To Write” guide. I certainly did when I came across a part where the main character says something along the lines of: “I have a great idea, why don’t I ask everyone’s names so we can bond”. Not exactly the best way to introduce a motley crew. It didn’t help that the sarky tone was complete overkill. It’s trying very, very hard to be funny- which of course means it only comes across as childish and insufferable. Add in details like the ship being called (I kid you not) Swiftkick and you will be wondering how such a juvenile manuscript ever made it past an editor (especially when the book’s title gives you a great option).
What makes all this worse is how desperate this book is to prove its geeky credentials. There are more than enough derivative illusions to Star Wars to make you want to join the dark side (complete with a “maybe I should shoot first” line). All of which is no mere accident- I found it amusing that the author’s bio has a weird flex about loving Star Wars more than you. Especially when it doesn’t come close to bringing the magic of Star Wars. Still, more noticeable is that it comes across as an Illuminae ripoff- except without the charm of the characters (or a good conspiracy to drive the plot… but we’ll get to that).
What’s most entertaining about how one note this supposedly diverse crew are (one reviewer described them as straightforward jocks- and I have to say I agree). What’s most frustrating is that in a book about failure, they’re not actually allowed to fail. For instance, the supposed brains of the operation gets herself captured, for no real reason and with nothing to gain, but oh-would-ya-believe it, she gets herself out of it with no harm done. Not only does this suck all the fun out of the concept, it also manages to remove all the tension. Very quickly, the crew that’s (justifiably) not getting on are now all the best of friends. Because this has to be the kind of story where they’re all pretty much useless, but also geniuses. In fact, we’re actually supposed to root for them because *twist alert* all their problems come down to discrimination.
That’s right- this book is woke as hell. And it wants you to know it. This book is on a tick box mission to cover all woke bases. The characters are defined by their immutable characteristics- and that’s it. Naturally none of the characters are allowed to have real flaws or personal development (because we all know diverse characters aren’t allowed personalities- implying they are human would be a travesty 😉). Hilariously, it’s also woke in way that accidentally ties itself in knots- especially when it comes to the so-called villain.
Because this is a woke book in favour of colonisation. I kid you not. As the official “bad guys” the Earth First group don’t make a lot of sense. Look, I get that the author was trying to parallel America First and far right movements- except that their motivations are more like a group of left wing eco warriors? This is a group saying that we shouldn’t colonise other planets when Earth has enough problems of their own- which to the author means they’re on the wrong side of history… yet to anyone else creates a crater sized flaw in the narrative. Here we have a story purporting to stand for left-wing progressivism… that somehow manages to be an argument for pro-establishment capitalism on (a)steroids. Needless to say, I don’t think the messaging is as right on as the author intended. In fairness to the author, this might be the most unintentionally funny story I’ve read in a while.
When it comes to the plot and world building I wouldn’t get excited. There’s not much to say about this supposed intergalactic setting, other than it doesn’t feel remotely like the future or another planet. In its pro-colonisation message, it does tell us that if we do take over other habitable planets, we may manage to set up a utopia for lefty ideals… though once again I’m not convinced this is what the author intended to put across. And in terms of plot, my notes are simply full of how bored I was. It’s just an endless stream of chase scenes and a rush to a stupid ending. Oh, but there is a polyamorous love triangle, because famously everyone that reads YA wants more love triangles. Give the people what they (don’t) want I guess.
Unfortunately, this book was nothing short of a mess. Other than the title and the cover, I can’t say there was anything I liked about it. I wanted to give this book a higher rating, since it’s not the worst book in the world, yet I simply couldn’t find a single thing to give it credit for. I didn’t even enjoy it as an audiobook- it was grating and irritating and could’ve done with more perspectives. So, I’m giving it the rather undistinguished honour of getting one of my rare banana peels:
Phew- that’s over with! I’m curious- have any of you had the displeasure of reading this? Or have you read any books lately you consider a disaster and think I should avoid? Let me know in the comments!