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…
With her back turned, she loosened each plait until her hair hung in waves that curled around her waist. Then she spun to face him and puffed a sigh.
“Fine. You caught me. I guess there’s no use pretending anymore.”
Doran settled in and waited for the punch line.
“I lured you onto this ship,” she said, “because I couldn’t get enough of your scintillating personality.”
There it was.
“Kiss me, Doran,” she cried, flopping onto the mattress with one arm slung over her eyes and the other clutched to her breast. “I burn for you, hotter than a thousand hells.”
He cocked his head to the side. “I think there’s an ointment for that.”
This book was so much fun. There are a multitude of YA quasi-sci-fi out there that claim to be for Firefly fans. This book made so such claims, yet it’s the closest to the fun-filled, energetic spirit of Firefly that I’ve read.
To be honest, I had reservations about this book. I wasn’t too fond of Landers’ previous book, Alienated. Luckily, this book was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable.
Solara is an orphan with a questionable (possibly criminal) past and nowhere to go. Doran is the futuristic equivalent of an asshole trust fund frat boy. When these two paths collide into a fairly disreputable ship with an even more dubious crew, adventure and hilarity ensues.
I fucking loved the characters. Solara is deadpan, hysterically funny at times. She’s a tough girl, she’s self-sufficient, no damsel in distress here. Her social status is bottom of the ladder. In the beginning of the book, Solara is trying to sell herself off as an indentured servant, for god’s sakes. There is no better future for her, if you can imagine that. But she is so resilient, and despite her servile status, her spirit never diminishes.
“I might have dirt under my fingernails and tattoos across my knuckles,” she told him, “but I can fix that with a hot bath and a visit to the flesh forger. You’re dirty in a place that can’t be washed. You’ll never change, and you’ll never make a difference. When you die, no one will miss you, because your life won’t matter.” She followed him down the stairs until they stood nose-to-nose at the base. “You don’t matter.”
Doran is set up as an arrogant asshole, but I never hated him. He’s set up as a playboy initially, but even then, I felt like there was something more to him. He’s just naturally charming, he was born with it (or maybe it’s Maybelline).
A minute ago she wanted to break his jaw, and now she had to fight the urge to pat him on the head and give him a cookie. That had to be some kind of superpower. She finally understood how he got everything he wanted in life.
The relationship between Doran and Solara was fantastic. They’re not lovey-dovey at all, in fact, they get together like chalk and cheese. It’s a master-servant relationship turned into mutual dependency out of pure necessity. They’re allies because they have to be. They don’t like each other at all. Solara made a mistake before, she’s not likely to do so again.
The captain grunted in understanding. “Ah, yes. Love—the great equalizer. It makes all of us stupid.”
A familiar ache opened up behind Solara’s breast, but she forced it down. She hated that Jace still had the power to hurt her from halfway across the galaxy. She hated even more that she’d given him that power—dropped her heart right into his waiting hands in exchange for a few sweaty fumblings and some pretty words.
“It’ll never happen again,” she insisted. “I’m smarter now.”
Solara and Doran’s relationship slowly develops throughout the story. It was very, very well done.
The story was awesome, filled with adventure and camaraderie, twists and turns. This is a true space opera.
…these were her people and this was their journey together—messy and wild and wonderful. She had no idea what the future would hold for any of them, beyond possibilities as infinite as the stars.
And really, that was enough.