Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion on 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…
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.