Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: The Star Thief

Book Review: The Star Thief by Jamie Grey

Goodreads Description: At twenty-three, Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There's just one problem - all she wants is to get out of the business.

But after Renna rescues an injured boy on her final job, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement. She unwittingly becomes ensnared by MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency who offer her a choice - either help them on their latest mission, or spend the rest of her life on a prison ship.

Forced to work under the watchful eye of handsome but arrogant Captain Finn, Renna learns the former mercenary-turned-hero has a few dirty secrets himself. As Renna works to discover the truth about Finn's past and keep the tantalizing man at arm's length, she unearths a plot to create an unstoppable army. The target? The human star fleet.

Now Renna must pull off the biggest job of her career - saving the galaxy. And maybe even herself.

My review: I knew little more than the title going into this book with the knowledge that it was a sci-fi new adult novel. I went in with an open mind and was very excited, as this was the first book I'd read as a ebook. The title intrigued me and going in the premise was fairly solid. An expert thief trying to retire roped into one last gig? Count me in. The first chapter opens in the middle of action and leads us through Renna's last job where she finds a child confined in a crate and decides to rescue him-- for the promise of a reward.

Unfortunately, this is where it began to lose me. The first chapter ends in a cliffhanger-- well done, keeps the reader on edge, and made me turn to find out what happens next. But as I made my way through the opening chapters, though I was excited and intrigued by the story, I found every chapter ended in a cliffhanger. Every. One. The first eight or so chapters have varying degrees of cliffhangers, some the traditional "and something bad happened at the last minute" to ending on a "let's have a talk" note to cutting scenes in half to end on a dangerous note. I am a huge fan of cliffhangers, and the first two or three didn't bother me so much. But as it kept happening, the author using that one tool to attempt to keep readers' attention, I found myself laughing at it. I could hear the cheesy, formidable "Dum dum dum" with every ending. Though it was effective at first, the repetition completely took away its power.

From there, I noticed many more cliched, troupe kind of writing. We have to reinforce that Renna is "absolutely vital" for the mission, "the only one who could save us." Which, though it is a common angle to go for, I find is highly unrealistic. Though people can be very important, no one is irreplaceable, especially in a military-like setting.

Though the main character, Renna, suffered from many cliched personality traits, I was not at all put off by her. In fact, she was probably the only character in the novel that I actually enjoyed, even if it was simply because she was the typical tough-shit, take-no-bull, strong female character. The parts that I enjoyed with her involved whenever she chose to break the rules--actually playing the "thief" and "rogue" that she was. However, I felt these negative traits were often pushed aside or minimized. After rescuing the boy, Myka, from the crate, she completely forgets about any compensation and accepts him as almost a younger brother. Her driving motivation through most of the story is to rescue Myka, to keep her promises to him, when really the only thing endearing her to this kid is that he's adorable and has been through hell. But growing up in the slums through horrible conditions, I find it unrealistic that she would become endeared to him because of that so quickly. Living a life like that, she would become hardened to children's suffering, so I feel like there needed to be something more tangible between them to make their relationship viable.

Speaking of cliches, the love interest is a dark, moody captain with a dark and mysterious past involving Renna. Yawn. Captain Finn was about as interesting as soggy bread. You can find copy cats of that kind of character in every book on this side of the Atlantic. Though other characters described him as "level-headed," he flew off his handle at any moment and acted more like a novice than any sort of captain. Sadly, the characters seemed to be telling us they were one way or had certain experiences, and then acted completely counter to that. It made it feel weak and underdeveloped.

Regarding the new adult aspect-- I failed to see what separated this book from any other adult novel. Perhaps that's something to do with the new adult section, as it is still an emerging market. I enjoyed the sexual freedom Renna had, the way she expressed and went for what she wanted. It was a refreshing change-- no doubt because I'm used to YA-- but there wasn't much, besides the character's age, that said she was a "new adult." The author could have made her 30 and I don't see that it would change anything.

Finally, my last problem lies with the ending. Though this book followed many of the "rules" of what publishing likes to see, it failed on, what I consider, to be one of the more important parts. The first book, so they say, should be able to stand alone. More than that, every book, no matter where it lies in a series, needs a beginning, middle, and end. This book had a beginning and middle, and after answering a few questions, jumps to set up for the next book. This book literally ends on a cliffhanger with no resolution-- until you read the second book. Nothing irks me more, because though this is a series, I should have a full story in my hands, especially with the first book.

Despite my complaints, there is nothing overly wrong with the book. The writing was very strong and the author has definitely done a lot of research on the sci-fi genre and knows her stuff. I finished it, which means I didn't hate it. It definitely satisfied that little bit inside me that enjoys cliches and the comfort of something that's been done before. So, if you're a fan of science fiction, strong female characters, and a smooth flow that won't bog you down, you should take a look. The author definitely has some promise, and it will be interesting to see how she develops her craft over the next few books.

TL;DR: 2/5 stars. Unless you're hard on for sci-fi and strong female leads, give this one a pass.

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