ARC Review: Zenith

Zenith


Title: Zenith

Author: Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg

Series: The Androma Saga, #1

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release Date: January 16th 2018

Rating:

Three Stars

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Your slate could be wiped clean. If, and only if, you bring my son back to me. Alive.”
“Clean?” Andi asked. “You mean…”
General Cortas met her eyes. “I will pardon you for your crimes. Lift your death sentence. You could return to Arcardius, Androma.”

After years on the run for an accident which saw her branded as a traitor on her home planet, years to build a fearsome reputation as the Bloody Baroness, Androma’s past has finally caught up with her. At the mercy of General Cortas Andi and her crew of marauders are offered a deal; travel to Xen Ptera, to the cruellest prison in the galaxy, to save the generals son and all their crimes will be wiped clean.

The writing at the beginning of Zenith felt very choppy, and I struggled to get into the story. There are a lot of different POVs in Zenith – Androma, Dex, Lira, Valen, Nor, and Klaren – and that mixed with the short chapters meant I found it hard to connect with the story and the characters. It seemed like whenever I got used to one character the narrative was switched to another characters’ story which left me lost a couple of times.

“When we bring the galaxy to its knees, you can paint the entire palace in blood, if you wish it.”
Nor closed her eyes and smiled.
She could see it, taste it.
And it pleased her.

Across the galaxy the ruthless Queen Nor of Xen Ptera is preparing for war. Her planet is dying and she seeks revenge on those who brought about Xen Ptera’s destruction, who murdered her parents and poisoned the air of her home, mutating her people. Meanwhile, forced to work with the bounty hunter who broke her heart and betrayed her years before, Andi and her crew prepare to break into Lunamere, the deadliest prison in the galaxy, a job which could just as easily reignite war as it could offer them all their freedom.

It took me a while to get into this story, and while some of the quick POV chapter changes pulled me out every so often, I did end up enjoying Zenith. It was a good story, plenty of action with a lot at stake for Andi and her crew to keep me hooked. Granted this wasn’t the best sci-fi book I’ve read, it was missing that spark which made it stand out, but I thought Zenith was a solid start to The Androma Saga and I’ll be looking forwards to the second book.

…The Characters

“Hearts were pathetic things, too easily broken. The Bloody Baroness couldn’t afford such weakness. Especially not now that Dex was back at her side.”

Androma lost everything when she was branded a traitor. She was forced to find a new home and a new family, which she eventually did through the Marauder and her crew. Andi doesn’t think about her past, blocking everything that happened to Kalee and later with Dex from her mind, but the mission they find themselves on starts dredging up those emotions as she’s surrounded by her past.

I thought Andi was a great character. She does what needs to be done with seemingly no remorse but she still cares, about her crew and about the lives she takes. The confidence she has in her skills is a quiet confidence, she knows how good she is and doesn’t need to prove it to anyone by being brash or reckless or arrogant.

So Dex Arez, the greatest bounty hunter in the Mirabel Galaxy, stared deep into Andi’s moonlit eyes and winked at her as he said. “It’ll be just like old times, love.”

Dex is supposed to be a great bounty hunter, the mission he joins Andi and her crew on offers him a chance to be reinstated as a Guardian which is what he has worked to his whole life, but I saw no evidence of this. Despite the fact that Dex is a formidable hunter, that he taught Andi everything she knows, most of his POV chapters were full of him moaning and brooding over his feelings for Andi.

The relationship between Dex and Andi bored me a little. I liked their characters well enough separately but their scenes together, when their feelings and their past together stood in between them, just seemed to drag. It felt like a standard relationship template that could be in any book and I had no real interest in whether they’d end up together again or not.

Zenith spent a lot of time with Andi’s crew aboard the Marauder, but I felt the development of Breck and Gilly was really lacking. We knew a lot about Andi and her second-in-command Lira through their POV chapters, but honestly looking back I couldn’t tell you anything about the other half of the marauders’ that doesn’t feel like simple surface information.

“For years, the suffering of her people, her planet, had torn her apart.
But she knew, deep in her soul, that soon she would have the power to stop it all.”

Nor was another character I loved. The Queen of the dying Xen Ptera wants revenge, she wants the rest of Mirabel Galaxy to pay for what they did to her planet in the name of their war before leaving Xen Ptera and its people dying after the peace treaty was signed. Nor is brutal and cruel, she has had years to put her plans into place and she has used those years very well. Throughout the story we discover more about Nor’s heritage, learn more about her parents, which gives further development to Nor’s character and the journey she is on in Zenith.

…The Setting

The moon on which the prison stood was a cold, barren wasteland. The prison itself, a towering fortress with no windows and only two doors.
One way in, for entering prisoner. “And one way out,” Soyina said, as she explained the map to Andi and Dex, leaning close so they could see her strange eyes light up when she spoke. “For the corpses.”

Through Andi’s ship we travel all over the Mirabel Galaxy with the marauders’ in Zenith. However the strength of the world building in this book is the history the authors have created. The war between Xen Ptera and the rest of the planets that makes up the Olen system was detailed and well-written; giving us the necessary background to understand the real risks as Andi and her crew travel to Lunamere on the edge of Xen Ptera territory, and to further develop Nor’s desire for revenge. That’s not to say the planets we explored alongside the marauders, the utopia world of Arcardius and the ruined planet of Xen Ptera, weren’t well written either, it was just that the history in this book stood out for me more.


There are a fair few mixed reviews out there for Zenith so I did go into this book with lowered expectations, but in the end I thought it was still a really good story and a solid start to a new series. The beginning of Zenith was hard to get into, but once I got used to the POV changes and got to know the characters a little better I was hooked on the action and adventure.

What did you think of Zenith? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

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40 thoughts on “ARC Review: Zenith

  1. I do love when the authors do a great job in creating believable and fascinating background for the story. Sorry to hear about the choppiness and multiple POVs though. It sounds like it was a bit heavy for one book. Hopefully by book 2 you’ll have gotten used to it so it won’t be to detrimental to your reading experience! Great review as always, Beth! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah world building is important for me in books but it’s only one aspect of the story, and in Zenith it was mainly the characters and writing that let it down. I’m a little back and forth about picking up book two (at the moment I think I will but that will likely change by tomorrow) but yeah hopefully it will be a better read overall.
      Thanks so much Lashaan! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t heard much about this book, but the synopsis has me pretty hooked. However, your review kind of encourages me to go in with lowered expectations as well. I love how the main character is well written and the world-building and history/lore is pretty strong. It’s a shame that the romance wasn’t very well fleshed out and that some of the other characters are lacking core development despite the book presenting various POVs. I’m happy you enjoyed most of the book, though! Hopefully the second book is an improvement? Good thing this was a well enough start for the series, though πŸ˜€ Great review, Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like this book was hyped up a little while ago, but to be honest I hadn’t heard much about it before picking it up either. I’d definitely recommend going into this one with lowered expectations, hopefully that’ll help you enjoy it more as well. The world building was good, and once I got into the story it was fast-aced and enjoyable, I just think the characters and their relationships was where Zenith fell down a little (and the writing in a way as well)
      If the second book is better I may end up picking up this series again, you never know I’m kind of undecided at the moment you know?
      Thanks so much Azia! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have heard quiet a few mixed things about this book and I honestly have no wish to pick it up. I know that the choppy writing would bother me a lot and I have a ton of other books that I need to get to. I’m glad to see that you enjoyed some elements of it. Great review Beth! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm not sure about the choppy writing- that’s really off-putting to me- I get what you mean how that can get in the way of connecting with characters. But it’s good that it’s action packed and I’m glad it’s a good story though. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it took me ages to get into this book because of the writing. It was hard to feel invested in the characters and the story when it seemed like every other page we were introduced to a new character or situation.
      Zenith was definitely action packed. I guess I just hoped for more from the book you know? Thanks so much. πŸ™‚ ❀

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  5. I love science fiction, but am unsure if I want to pick ‘Zenith’ up – the blurb does not really excite me and there have been a lot of unflattering reviews from my friends and bloggers I trust. I love the detail in your review, and given the amount of well-written sci-fi out there, I probably only read this if the following books redeem the series.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sci-fi has become one of my favourite genres as well, and yeah there are so many amazing books out there you can pick up you don’t really want to waste you’re time on the not-so-good ones. For me Zenith just ended up being one of the not-so-good ones. I hope the second book can redeem the series a little, but I’m still unsure whether I’ll be picking it up myself at the moment. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t count Zenith as sci-fi to be honest… It sounds a bit more fantastical to a degree, especially considering people have compared the main character to Celeana Sardothien. I think people don’t normally read sci-fi will love it. I’m an avid sci-fi reader and watch it on TV. I’ve done some digging and the only sci-fi background the authors seem to have is with watching Firefly as a kid. I can’t find any indication that they read a lot of the source material or books like it before writing the story, so if I ever pick it up I’ll read for the plot/characters.

      What are some of your favorite sci-fis?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I mean, for me this was more sci-fi than fantastical but I guess the thing about reading is we all take away different things from the books we pick up. That’s one of the things I love about it and that I love talking about with people, what we take away from the same books you know? I’m not really an expert on sci-fi. It’s a great genre but I haven’t read as much into it as some of the sci-fi fans out there. My favourite is the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown (I am so excited for the release of Iron Gold it is unreal!) What’s you’re favourite sci-fi release? πŸ™‚

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      2. Red Rising and Ender’s Game!

        I’m sorry, I meant fantastical, not fantasy. Meaning in hard sci-fi, the author focuses on scientific accuracy. Zenith is considered soft sci-fi, meaning I have to use my imagination more because the events that happen are less likely to happen in real life. That makes it fantastical because the world they made up is non-existing except for the “outer-space” part.
        Some people consider Star Wars actual fantasy. Crazy, right?!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yay, another Red Rising fan. πŸ™‚
        Ahh, that makes more sense. Sorry, I see fantastical and my mind automatically jumps to fantasy! πŸ˜€ Yeah I definitely agree with you on Zenith being more fantastical than sci-fi.
        Oh for me Star Wars is definitely sci-fi. I can’t quite count it as fantasy in my mind though I can almost see how some people could in a way.

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      4. I grew up on the likes of Piers Anthony, Asimov, McCaffery (Freedom series) and JeGuin. But some of my current faves are Blake Crouch, the Illuminae Files, and Wilful Machines. I have nearly a wall in my house filled with sci-fi titles, so there are so many great reads that recommending good books would end in a 5 page list :p

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review Beth! I have skirted around the idea of picking this one up but also read many of the mixed reviews. It seems almost as if the writing between the two authors perhaps wasn’t as seamless as it needed to be. I love when my characters in books are well fleshed out & it seems like while there are some that are, there also are many characters that aren’t. Hmm….will need to think about this more, maybe after the sequel is released πŸ’œ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Lilly. πŸ™‚ ❀ Yeah there are plenty of mixed reviews for this one (reviews I only read after I'd finished Zenith myself) and I can't say I'd really recommend this one either. That's possibly it, I just found the constant character jumps to be a little jarring. Zenith jumped around so much it was hard to connect with any character when after two pages we were introduced to someone else.
      Hopefully the sequel will be better, I'm debating with myself whether to pick it up when it's released or not. πŸ™‚

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  7. I haven’t read it myself, but have definitely heard mixed reviews. One particularly disappointed reviewer went on a rant about how they probably can’t claim that they’re bestselling authors since it’s Sasha Alsberg’s first book. Which, I don’t know if it is or not, but the rant made me laugh. I’m glad that you enjoyed it though! I find the premise interesting, but haven’t felt like adding it to the old TBR pile yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah I’d seen some mixed ratings for this one but didn’t read too many reviews before picking up Zenith myself (I find negative reviews tend to colour my own opinions a little too much and I wanted to give this book a good chance). Oh I can imagine that would be kind of amusing, and it’s a good point as well because you can’t be a bestselling author if you haven’t released a book yet! πŸ˜€
      Unfortunately I can’t say I’d recommend adding this one to your TBR pile, but if you do pick it up one day I hope you enjoy it a little bit. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, I’ll probably give it a pass. There are too many good, great, and important books in the world–or at least lousy books that interest me–to go after one that I’ve mostly heard “meh” about. I definitely appreciated your review, though! You did a much better job highlighting the strengths of the book than some of the other reviews I’d read. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I completely get that. Even just in the sci-fi genre there are so many exceptional stories and so many new releases I can’t wait for. Why waste time with a book and series that isn’t as impressive. πŸ™‚
        That’s all right, and yeah even in my really negative reviews I try and find some strengths because I don’t think any book is 100% terrible you know? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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