Narrator: Adam Lazarre-White, Adenrele Ojo
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Published on 13 February 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.
Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.
Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.
I approached this audiobook with trepidation since I have never been interested in reading books from either Rachel Caine or Ann Aguirre, and I’m generally not a massive fan of dual-author books either, for a number of reasons. However, I do like sci-fi and I am willing to take chances because I could always DNF if the book wasn’t working for me, right? (I am trying to learn to be ruthless with that.)
But from the very start, I loved how honest and ruthless Zara was, rising sharply from petty criminal to outright murderer and fucking owning it, but not in a malevolent way. She didn’t strut around claiming to be one thing and showing she was clearly another (*cough Celaena Sardothian/Androma Racella*cough*), she didn’t delight in killing someone, and she clearly struggled with what she had to do to survive. I liked her grit, her determination, and her sheer survival skill. She was street smart and independent while still being a teenager, and I liked that.
So I was happy to go on, and as I listened to this audiobook, I discovered that the writing remained largely consistent, both the major and supporting characters showed growth over the arc of the story, and I fell in love with Zara and Nadim the leviathan, an alien being so vast he is also a kind of organic spaceship. There wasn’t a massive amount at stake in the first half of the book (outside of Zara’s own personal crisis – running away from a mess she created and left behind), but the further I got the higher the stakes were raised and the more I got invested.
Zara wasn’t by any means perfect. She makes mistakes, she fights with people she loves, and she shoots first. She fears and loves so fiercely. What got me was Zara’s loyalty. I am a Hufflepuff, so loyalty is important to me. Zara developed a very strong connection not just to Nadim, her living spaceship, but also to Beatriz, her shipmate. The two come from very different backgrounds – different upbringings, different languages, different lives – but they bonded slowly but surely into a sister-like friendship I don’t want to see end. I loved how Zara was running her entire life, trying to control it, and ended up running as far as she could and being unable to control anything.
He was sooo sweet and sensitive and I am trash for sweet, sensitive boys in YA (I mean he’s not a BOY, he’s a male-gendered asexual living spaceship big enough to live in). His relationship with Zara grew organically, both of them curious aboute other, the ‘romance’ purely metaphorical but oh so enjoyable, and I fell in love with their journey through the stars and the terror of being alone in deep space.
I even liked the aliens and I am hard to impress with aliens.
The only thing I guess didn’t really gel with me was the repeated concept of there being one pilot and one starsinger (musician) to join the leviathan, and since Beatriz was clearly the singer, that meant Zara had to be the pilot… however Beatriz also did most of the piloting… I mean, I know why Zara got picked (she was just the lucky one of the type of person they were looking for) but she certainly wasn’t a pilot nor a musician, so I haven’t quite figured that part out yet.
Also, Zara was a person of colour and as a fellow curly-haired girl I totally appreciated how much thought and effort Zara put into her (much more curlier than mine) hair.
I have already put holds on the audiobooks for the next two books in the series, and they should be available at my library in the first half of next year. I’m pretty excited for them!