Series: Starflight #1
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
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…
Space novels aren’t usually my genre. The fact that the characters are often necessarily stuck for days on a space shuttle makes a lot of these books sound pretty similar–and I won’t say that Starflight is a complete exception to that rule. However, the engaging plot, well-developed characters, and cute romance makes Starflight enjoyable enough to stand out from the crowd.
Protagonist Solara is winning from the beginning. Life has made her tough, but she’s still committed to being a decent person when she can. All she wants is freedom and a fair chance, and who can argue with that? Doran is a harder sell, initially, but readers eventually get to learn his backstory, as well, and see the good lurking beneath him. The two have a lot of differences–not least coming from two vastly different social circles–but the novel shows how adversity can help anyone come to work together.
The plot is continuously engaging. What starts out as a seemingly straightforward trip to the outer reaches of space quickly becomes muddled with obstacles. Solara and Doran meet a wide variety of characters and have a wild range of experiences. Space never looked so unempty! And many of the scenes are laugh out loud funny.
Although this book can mostly stand alone, there’s so much unresolved that I fully expected there to be a sequel. That’s apparently true–sort of. Starflight #2 will be a companion novel told from the perspectives of two of the side characters in this novel. That means I’ll probably get some of the closure I found missing Starflight but not as much as I want, since the biggest loose ends pertain to Doran, and he’ll be a side character.
Superficially, this book has a lot in common with Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (which makes it odd that Disney Hyperion would publish both of them). The protagonists are both girls with mechanic skills. Both end up in an accidental kidnapping situation. Both are fugitives fleeing either to or from the fringes of space, which is lawless in ways the “main” parts of space or not. However, while I decided to DNF Stitching Snow due to flat characters and poor handling of what was essentially child abuse, I did enjoy Starflight–which suggests there are also noticeable differences between the two novels.