Starflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight #1
Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: 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…
This was quite a fun book, and I did enjoy the storyline and even the romance. But I feel like every side character was phoned in, and the science fiction setting was not used to its full potential. Plus, the final climax wrapped up a subplot instead of the main plot and apparently thought I wouldn’t notice.
First off, I did really enjoy the two main characters. Solara is a tough, gifted mechanic who’s determined to make a new life for herself. Doran is an entitled rich kid who desperately needs to be taken down a few pegs (and then that actually happens). Both of them have some good nuance to their personalities, and I especially liked Doran freaking out about Solara’s criminal past (it’s over the top, but supposed to be and makes sense). As the novel goes on, they complement each other well and their growing affection is … well, would have been sweet if Doran hadn’t laid on the jerkitude quite so strong at the start.
The setting felt very much like the series Firefly, with a quirky crew on a ramshackle, beat-up ship off to the outer edges of space to do slightly nefarious things. Which, great! I love that shtick. It’s just…it was Firefly. And that’s it. Anything that wasn’t covered by that show was basically the same as modern day. There were so many little details exactly the same as our time period that it just weirded me out a little. (For instance, senior portraits. Not sure why that stands out in particular to me, but it does.) I didn’t feel like this book added anything new to the genre, because it was just a vague veneer of sci-fi pasted on top of a contemporary base. The side characters felt the same way. They were quirky, they were kind of fun, but they were thin and nothing we haven’t seen before.
The plotline of the book was quick and action packed and interesting. I was not fond of the “Solara accidentally married a pirate” bit, mostly because it was so awkwardly shoehorned in there. (Also, the gross patriarchy required to make it work.) But everything else worked. It was a rollickin’ fun adventure. Again, until the end, when this big major plot came to a head…and a subplot got wrapped up instead. Now, it’s a series, so leaving things open ended is fine. Except in the last chapter everyone acted like the whole “Doran was framed” thing got settled. It…didn’t. It got more information, but it certainly didn’t get even a fraction of settled.
Rating: 3 out of 5