Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight by Melissa Landers (Starflight #1)

Genre: Sci-Fi, YA

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion on February 2, 2016

Source: Purchased

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it.

  

Melissa Landers’ STARFLIGHT is a fun space romp with some light political intrigue about a ragtag crew aboard a run-down ship with a banter-filled romance. In other words, it’s nothing all that special. But despite the overall lack of originality, I found that the components of the story totally worked and I was charmed. I even read this in one sitting!

Solara Brooks knows that the key to her future is getting off earth and travelling to the outer realms of space where her skills as a mechanic will outweigh her criminal past. But before she can get there, she needs to secure passage and the only way to do so is to work as an indentured servant. Her new “master”? None other than Doran Spaulding, the rich prick who tormented her throughout high school…because of course that’s the situation. Their arrangement goes from bad to worse and in a bizarre series of events, Solara ends up kidnapping Doran for his cash and hustles him onto a sketchy transpo ship willing to take the pair to the outer realms.

The crew of the Zenith has secrets just like Solara and Doran, so they’re not too keen on questioning the pair’s arrangement. But when Doran is framed for a crime allegedly involving his father’s cocmpany and some shady dealings, the entire crew – and even Solara – have to band together in support or they’ll all go down under the scrutiny of the Enforcers. The gang has all sorts of (mis)adventures on their way, from battling ruthless space pirates to facing off against neurologically altered super soldier assassins. In other words, it’s a blast. Will STARFLIGHT surprise you with crazy plot twists or offer deep insights into philosophical quandaries? No, probably not. But if you’re anything like me, it’ll make you smile and chuckle the whole way through.

Now I’m sort of ashamed to admit this to y’all,  but I’m not the biggest fan of action scenes. In fact, I may have skimmed one or two of the longer ones I’ve encountered in the past. Yet something about Landers’ writing during the action scenes really worked for me and my eyes were glued to the page the entire time, cataloguing each punch and blaster shot with glee. The fights aren’t over-choreographed, nor are they too sparse on details: there’s just enough there to give you a good mental picture without becoming a slog. No one is more shocked than I am by this, but the action scenes were actually one of my favourites parts of this one.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a review from me without a breakdown of the characters, and thankfully there are a number of fun ones in STARFLIGHT. Solara has a “get it done, move along” toughness to her without being a mega-warrior type that I quite appreciated; plus how great is it to read about a young lady mechanic? Shades of Cinder, here for sure. Initially I wasn’t the biggest fan of Doran – I found his excuses for treating Solara so abysmally thin and unconvincing. But he totally eats crow and apologizes so all’s well that ends well in my mind. The rest of the Zenith’s crew are likeable too, with the kleptomaniac first-mate Renny being my personal favourite. He was just so sweet! And I appreciated that Landers acknowledged the seriousness of his condition rather than making it a joke. 

If you’re in the market for a fun, funny, and fast space adventure, then Melissa Landers’ STARFLIGHT is for you. Nothing earth shattering here, but it’s practically guaranteed to be great weekend or vacation reading.

Have you read STARFLIGHT? What’s your favourite trope-filled weekend or vacation read? Let me know in the comments, because I need some recommendations!

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  • Before reading your review I wasn’t sure if giving the book a chance might be worth it, but now I think I will read it sometime later this year. Because the story sounds very entertaining, and I always like that.

    Happy Reading!

    • Hooray! I hope you enjoy it, Sabrina. This one is nothing if not entertaining – kind of like the book version of a summer blockbuster film. 🙂

  • I agree, this book was so much fun and I didn’t want to put it down!

    • Right? I still don’t know if I can put my finger on it, but something about this book really worked for me. Action-packed and funny!

  • This sounds really cool! I’m a total sucker for anything with space pirates.

    • If you like space pirates, then you definitely need to read this one! Check your Kindle. 😉

  • I’m with you, Danya, I find action scenes to be hit or miss. I think they’re probably very hard to write well. But this sounds like a blast! I may have to track down a copy, thanks for the review!

    • Thank goodness I’m not alone! Yes, I think you’re right – action scenes seem to take a lot of mental acrobatics and some writers are better at it than others. Starflight is a ton of fun; I highly recommend it if you need something to pull you out of a reading slump!

  • I found this one to be enjoyable too though not entirely original, like you. But yes it was certainly fun. I really liked the characters, especially. I’m with you on action scenes. I’ve been known to skim over them more often than not. I”m curious to see what you think of the sequel. I was let down by it sadly.

    • I hear you Nick, there wasn’t a lot of originality in this one…but somehow it still worked for me! Solara was awesome – she gave me Cinder vibes with her affinity for the mechanical. Action scenes are such a chore for me! It’s the main reason why I’ve never tried to read military fantasy, haha. I’ve heard a lot of people say they were disappointed in the sequel, so I might actually pass on it!

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    I know what you mean about action scenes: sometimes they get confusing and I tend to skip ahead to see how it ends. So, if this writer was able to keep you glued to the page even during action sequences, it means that this is the kind of addictive storytelling I might enjoy.
    One more for the list… 🙂 Thank yo so much for sharing!

    • It’s such a relief to hear that I’m not the only one who feels this way about action scenes! This story may not have the most original premise, world, or characters, but I was glued to the page despite all that…and that includes the action scenes. 😉

  • I heard the audio and I thought this was such a fun book. I actually just remembered now that I need to read book two….I don’t even know it’s out yet but I have it on my list.

    • Oooh, good to know that the audiobook is good too! I’ve heard from a lot of people that book two was a letdown, but hopefully it works better for you.

  • Sam Kozbial

    I read this book a while ago and found it to be tons of fun. I am hesitant to read the companion book, as people have said it lacks a lot of the charm of the first book. Great review!
    Sam @ WLABB

    • After hearing similar things from so many other commenters, I’m quite hesitant to read the second book myself now! Starflight was a ton of fun though, and I was also quite charmed by it. Thanks, Sam! 🙂

  • Greg Hill

    Ooh Starflight! This was pretty fun, and I liked Solara and Doran a lot (after hating Doran SO MUCH at first because rich jerk- I was like really *rolls eyes* but he won me over later). Solara was pretty awesome and I liked how she kept the ship running- at times I wondered how they ran the engines WITHOUT Solara lol? And if you liked this I think you’ll like Starfall as well.

    Have you read The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet? I think you’d LOVE that one.

    • It was so much fun! Thanks for the recommendation, Greg. 🙂 Doran was the absolute WORST at the beginning of the story! Thank goodness he became a completely different person, or I would’ve hated him as a character. LOL too right! The ship was constantly falling apart.

      I have, and I did love it! Much more unique and innovative than this one, in my opinion. Can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the series!

  • You’re totally right, a trope-filled read can totally work in the right author’s hands. I’m all for that!

    • Yes! A writer who knows how to work with tried and true tropes is one that I’ll reach for every time.

  • YAAAAAAAAAY! I am so glad you enjoyed this book, Danya! This was one of my favorite books of 2016, and definitely a favorite YA sci-fi book. I loved it so much! Sadly the sequel has not captured my interest like this one has, and I haven’t even finished it. I’ve seen a lot of negative and so-so reviews of Starfall, so I’m not totally excited to finish it… oh well, at least Starflight was awesome!

    Great review, Danya! Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • YAY is right! I had such a good time with this one, which is awesome because I’ve been in something of a sci-fi rut the past few months. But this was an unexpected surprise and it’s made me eager to read more SF soon. I think I might actually skip out on Starfall, since the vast majority of people seemed disappointed by it. Bummer, but like you said – at least this story was good!

      Thanks Alyssa! You too. 🙂

  • I’m really happy you enjoyed this, because this book had been on my TBR for a long time. I too love originality, but was happy there was enough humor and character development to make this work. Awesome review.

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • It’d been on my TBR for ages too, so I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it – and that it was such a fun read! This reminded me of a great sci-fi version of a beach read, tons of fun when all you need is something light. Thanks, Tori!

  • See, I already had this on my TBR and you are totally reminding me why. It sounds like such a fun read! I seriously need a fun scifi in my life. I just love the whole indentured servant kidnap scenario to be honest. I don’t mind trope filled reads done well and this one sounds like it is. It doesn’t need to be totally original as long as you’ve got a decent cast of characters and an author who can write. This has got both so I’m off to see if my nice librarians will accept bribes to order books.

    • Hooray! It’d been on my TBR for ages too (and sitting unread in my Kindle library for too long) so I’m quite happy I’ve read it – and that it was such a blast. It’s been too long since I read a fun sci-fi myself, I really need to seek them out more often. My favourite part of the kidnapping trope this go-round is that it was the dude who got kidnapped, not the girl. So fun!

      Librarians prefer cookies. 😉

      • Cookies, ok, I can work with that. Just a simple gift of baked goods to my friendly neighbourhood librarians. Nothing suspicious about that.

        BUt yes, I love it’s the girl doing the kidnapping. Way more fun. Although I really need to know how she managed it.

  • Lynn Williams

    I’d not heard of this one but i loved your opening followed by this ‘In other words, it’s nothing all that special.’ but then you really enjoyed it anyway and read it in one sitting. You just can’t beat a bit of fun.
    Lynn 😀

    • Hahaha, well, if the shoe fits! 😉 Exactly – sometimes a good, entertaining story is the only thing I’m really looking for.

  • I read it, and was sadly not taken :/

  • Ooh, this one is on my TBR and I’m glad to see you enjoyed it and also that you rate it as a lighter read!

    I’m intrigued with what you say about the action scenes…. I enjoy well written action where I can get a clear idea of what is going on, but I also struggle sometimes imagining this or getting bogged down in the detail!

    I can’t wait to actually get this one and as always, great review!

    • It’d been ages since I read something light and fun before Starfilght, so it was a welcome change and I definitely recommend it. YES! Too much detail really slows things down for me, and I find that it takes me out of the story more often than not.

      Hooray, thanks Di! I’m excited to hear your take on it. 🙂

  • I agree with your review 100% – this one was just so much fun. I thought Landers did a textbook perfect job also with developing the slow-burn, enemies to friends to lovers romance. A really good escapist read! Glad you liked it!

    PS – I am torn about reading the sequel because some reviews I’ve read is that it is sans humor and is more plotty vs. character development heavy. This definitely dismays me…