& Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight by Melissa Landers. Publisher: Disney-Hyperion February 2016

Starflight by Melissa Landers. Publisher: Disney-Hyperion February 2016

The Book Itself: This book cover is gorgeous! The trails of gold are shimmery, and the space is a deep inky purple and black. The font is whimsical and it makes me want to read the book!

My Review: 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…

First of all, sorry I have been so terrible about posting things. I would make excuses about a busy life, but really I have just been lazy and absolutely wonderful at procrastinating 😛 I am trying to make it a priority to keep up on posts, writing a little bit every day. Even if that is during breaks at work, or typing out autocorrected sentences on my phone while I wait for takeout food to get here!

But I digress. I will admit that I went into Starflight in a weird way. Morning Star, the third installment of a series I really love, was coming out but I still had a couple of days. I picked up Starflight in the hopes that it could fill the gap, but knowing that if Morning Star showed up, I would instantly put the book I was reading down to go through it.

Luckily, Starflight is very good and I didn’t feel the need to drop it once Morning Star came out, and I did finish it in a manner of days because I wanted to see what happened.

I’m into space these days, apparently. YA space operas, sci-fi with ships and aliens and artificial intelligence…I’ve had a good reading streak with those themes. Starflight is no exception. It starts off with plenty of action, and we get to know our characters who seem at first to be familiar tropes: rich boy given a lot of opportunities from birth and has the attitude to show for it, and the poor girl down on her luck, with a criminal history to boot. It’s the opposites attract, wrong side of the tracks kind of relationship, but luckily both Solara and Doran become more complex than that.

There are a few things that can really sour a YA adventure for me: love triangles, instant-love, and shallow character development. This had none of the above! Hooray! It’s not without its faults, even within that romance and that space opera plot, but I liked it just the same.

Solara manages to convince people that Doran is her servant, and not the other way around, and they board a ship of misfits (yay misfits! They often make the best characters). There are fights and escapes, both planet-side and space-side, space pirates, interesting if predictable side characters, and a romance that you actually see build instead of instant feeling.

It’s not without cliché – the butterflies in the stomach when a character is first attracted to another, the princess in disguise, the lovable curmudgeon everyone becomes attached to, etc. But I didn’t mind it so much. I thought the events and characters built a world I would like to revisit, and I rooted for Solara and Doran even when they very clearly misunderstood each other.

So you come for the character development, stay for the worldbuilding. Landers manages to make a complex solar system and culture without vast amounts of info-dumping, blurring the story into a whitewash of little details about her made-up society. It’s a sneaky kind of plotting. What we get of the world comes through from the characters perspective: Solara’s desire to make it to land in the outer reaches of space so she can just own some property for herself and live simply, Cassia and Kane’s link to a foreign government and their dismay about what might happen should they ever return, etc. What we get of the setting is nestled into action-motivated scenes. I don’t know why, but I loved the sequence where Solara is using Doran’s currency to get supplies for their trip, navigating an interstellar mall in a sense, while watching her back for the bad guys.

The story itself is complex too. You’ve got multiple antagonists, side characters with their own agendas and a plot that, despite its side stories, makes its way to a satisfying end. Cassia and Kane will be the focus of the next story, and while I did enjoy Solara and Doran’s installment, I am looking forward to picking up the next book.

My Grade: B

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