Author: Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight, #1
Release Date: February 2nd 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…
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Solara is desperate to get to the outer realms, but with no money to pay for her passage herself she needs to become indentured to someone already on the way there. However with the tattoos on her knuckles marking her as a criminal she has no hope of getting chosen. At least until Doran Spaulding walks past. An old nemesis of Solara’s from when she had a scholarship to the mechanical engineering program in a private academy. Doran and Solara did not get along but he still indentures Solara to him and agrees to finance her trip to the outer realm.
However Solara soon realises she made a deal with the devil. She is at Doran’s every whim and he calls her for inconsequential tasks in the middle of the night, determined to drive her crazy, at least until he sees the tattoos branding her criminal record for all the world to see. With no explanation Doran tries to kick her off the ship in the middle of a tiny outpost in the middle of nowhere. Having no other choice, and sick of Doran’s attitude, Solara uses her stunner on him and ‘kidnaps’ Doran.
When he wakes Doran has no memory of who he is, or who Solara is. With free reign Solara tells him that he is the one indentured to her, but before long Doran is being called back to his ship and with the Enforcers on the way Solara is forced to flee to the nearest ship she can find and beg for passage for her and Doran.
Once aboard the Banshee Doran’s memory starts to come back and he realises Solara tricked him, but it’s too late to turn back, especially when they both realise Doran is a wanted fugitive. The Enforcers are trying to extradite him back to Earth for crimes Doran swears he didn’t commit. With the rest of the crew aboard the Banshee, unlikely allies, Solara and Doran find themselves not only running from the Enforcers and trying to figure out why Doran and his father are in so much trouble but fleeing from the Daeva who are after someone aboard the Banshee, facing down space pirates for parts only to later have to outrun them when the deal goes wrong.
All the while Solara and Doran try to keep his identity under wraps, not sure who to trust, as they journey towards the Obsidian Beaches so Doran can complete the task his father gave him and to the outer realms where Solara can hopefully build a new life for herself.
Solara has heard fairytales of what it is like in the outer realms and she dreams of a place where her talents as a mechanic will be revered and her tattoos marking her as a criminal inconsequential. She made a mistake, one she was not fully aware of, and has been paying for it ever since. Solara is a strong character, determined to do whatever she can to build a life for herself, and clearly a very talented mechanic, skills which she uses when the Banshee breaks down. She is loyal as well; when it is her and Doran against the world, when they don’t trust the Banshee crew, she helps him in any and every way she can.
Doran has led a charmed life, anything he wanted he got, but like Solara there are things in his past that have marked him just as much as Solara’s criminal tattoos do to her. When he hears of the crimes he is being extradited for he doesn’t believe them, he honestly thinks there is a mistake because there is no way he or his father would be involved in anything criminal. As the only family he has left Doran idolises his father, despite being an important and influential business man Doran’s father always made time for his son.
Because of their past at the academy Solara and Doran do not like each other, and Solara spending time indentured to Doran does nothing to improve their relationship. It is only when the two are trapped in close quarter aboard the Banshee that they start to let go of their past and trust one another. Determined to keep Doran’s identity a secret from the rest of the crew they can only trust one another and they start to become friends, and eventually something more. They share their past scars after a while and help each other to heal from them a bit as well.
I really liked meeting the rest of the Banshee crew. Each of them were really well developed with their own pasts haunting them and their own actions motivating them. At first they don’t trust Solara and Doran, not knowing what brought them onto the ship and not knowing what Doran did to have the Enforcers chasing him, but after a while as Solara and Doran start proving their worth the rest of the crew start opening up to them more. Solara didn’t have any family or friends before leaving with Doran and all of Doran’s old friends, even his girlfriend, could not be trusted, choosing to sell him out to the Enforcers. For both of them the Banshee crew become their family.
We saw a lot of the world in Starlight but I thought it was all really well written. There were a lot of settings; from Doran’s original ship which was large and richly built, to the Banshee which may be practically falling apart in places but which felt a lot more home-y. From the Obsidian Beaches which practically drip in royalties and influential people, to the outer realms which are a very dangerous place to be. In the outer realms people have no hope, they are at risk from death every day and with no money to work their machines they have no hope to earn a living. From the pirates who run the stars to the Daeva who terrify everyone with their brutality. A lot of the background was well explained as well; why the outer realms were so poor and downtrodden, how all the different planets were colonised. Starflight had strong character-development and a interesting story but that doesn’t mean the world-building fell in the wayside.
As far as Starflight goes it wasn’t the best sci-fi novel I’ve ever read but that wasn’t to say it was the worst. I really enjoyed the story; it was full of action, and it seemed like every other page there was another plot twist, more adventure, more conflict. It never stopped and I’m interested in where the second book takes the characters.
What did you think of Starflight? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.