Friday, January 20, 2017

REVIEW | Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight by Melissa Landers
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Series: Starflight #1
Awards: None
Format: Audio (from Library) - 9 hours, 44 minutes
Narrator: Amanda Dolan

WHY?:  Recommendations from awesome blogger friends, particularly Selah (from A Bibliophile's Style) who described it thus:  " YA sci-fi, Serenity-esque ship & crew, slow burn romance. "  No way I'm not reading that.

SYNOPSIS:  Solara Brooks is an orphan on Earth with brains and some important skills but with less than no prospects.  The solution?  Hitch a ride as an indentured servant, out to the outer rim of planets where her mechanical skills will be a hot commodity.  Doran Spaulding is practically the polar opposite of Solara - rich, arrogant, privileged and incredibly obnoxious.  He offers Solara the opportunity to be his servant in exchange for passage and Solara is desperate enough that she accepts.  Circumstances occur which land the two of them on a scrappy ship called the Banshee, running for their lives which are forever altered.


I don't like to closely read too many other reviews of books before writing my own but I happen to glance at a 2 (out of 5) star review on Goodreads that started with: "Welcome to yet another teen romance." (source)  The reviewer is not wrong, I mean just read the synopsis above.  Of COURSE one of the main characters is an orphan and the other is rich and pretty.   So, if you are really bothered by well-worn tropes, no matter how well they are done, this may not be the book for you.  Me, however?  I LOVE tropes... just call me a sheep.  As long as they are tropes I like and they are written well, you won't be able to tear me away.  And Starflight has everything that I love....
  • Hate to Love Romance
  • Scrappy lower class girl/guy attracts rich, popular guy/girl who turns out to be not so bad.
  • Slow Burn romance
  • Chosen Family
  • Eccentric crew of misfits doing crime but with hearts of gold
  • David vs. Goliath
  • Witty Banter
  • Ode to Firefly

None of it original or startling, all of it like catnip to my weary soul, ha-ha.  For example, I feel like good chunks of my life have been devoted to finding that "thing" (tv show, book, movie, manga, whatever) that delights and entertains me like Joss Whedon's Firefly did. I am almost always disappointed BUT NOT THIS TIME!!  To be fair, Landers practically rips off whole chunks of the Firefly 'verse.  Rich and privileged inner planets with a corrupt big brother type of government, outer rim of planets that are ignored and are basically like the wild west, super, terrifying Reaver-lite bounty hunters that can show up out of nowhere, crew of misfits on a rust bucket of a ship that have each other's back and who do crime but only very mildly. 

So, I loved it.  I finished it in two days and if I'd had the luxury, I would have probably sat down and devoured it all in one day.  One of my key caveats to loving something heavily laden with tropes, is that it must be written well and Landers hits a home run.  She should teach a class on how to properly and realistically evolve and develop a slow-burn, hate-to-love romance.  Solara and Doran's relationship was both lovely and fun.  The insults they hurl at each other for most of the book had me smiling in delight (what?  I enjoy a really clever witty insult) and sometimes laughing out loud.  The community she creates on board the Banshee feels warm and inviting.  

But what about the plot, you say?  It's a blast.  There are space pirates, inter-galactic conspiracies, dirty duels to the death(ish).  It has a nice overflowing arc, encompassing a couple of mysteries, but also an episodic feel that allows room for getting to know the characters and developing relationships. No real complaints and I'm excited that this was just the first installment.

I enjoyed the audio narration.  Amanda Dolan did a good job reading both males and females.  Most of the perspective was from Solara, with occasional sections from Doran, and her voice had a good quality for representing the feisty and sarcastic 18 year old. 

FINAL VERDICT:  An absolute delight.  Especially recommend for fans of Firefly as well as those that like their space operas with plenty of witty banter and romance. Perfect for a gray day when you want to curl up and lose yourself in an adventure. 4 out of 5 stars.
Other Opinions are Available: Metaphors and Moonlight | The Eater of Books

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