This book is so different from your run of the mill space opera while still staying well within the genre boundaries. The protagonist, Alana Quick, is something as rare in genre fiction as a black, lesbian chronically ill mechanic. That is quite a combo and it is by no means mere varnish.
Alana has a autoimmune-disorder that is slowly breaking down her motor functions and causing her to be in constant pain, which she managed with medicine with quite real side-effects. The illness is something she has lived with since she was twelfth and that is with her constantly. However it does not define her and she does not let her limit her. The illness is important to the plot in the same way that her sexuality is important to her love live.
This is a proper space opera with love triangles, crazy plots, space ships, multiple planets, chase through space, walks in EVE, bombs and much more! The characters and their interactions plays a huge part in the book. They feel like real people interacting with each other.
After just 8% of the book I had to stop reading and go make an update on Goodreads noting just how much I was enjoying the book.
The book has proper worldcraft – rich and interesting. The base world of the story is not Earth, nor is Earth ever mentioned in the story. The universe our heroes inhabits has a collapsing economy that is being slowly taken over by humans from another universe. It seems like an unusually high percentage of the population is living with some kind of chronic illness, but that might just because chronic illness is such a small part of normal fiction, that it seems disproportionately high – it might also be that our POV character is noticing it more than a character without health problems. It is never explored in the plot, which is why I am considering that it might just be more noticeable in this novel than in a “normal” sci-fi book. The book never tries to be hard sci-fi but it does follow its own internal logic and rules.
Towards the end of the book it becomes pretty high concept but I don’t think I can really talk about that without spoiling it. But it is talking about transhuman themes, lets leave it at that.
The two sisters have a pretty antagonistic relationship, though they do love each other. Alana is constantly measuring her own live against her sisters who is a high status spirit guide while Alana is a simple mechanic. Nova does not understand Alana’s fascination with the physical world, she resent that Alana does not try to develop her spiritual side. They constantly lose their temper with each other, they misunderstand each other, they push each other’s bottoms but when it comes right down to it, they love each other and part of the reason they have such a hard time bonding is because they genuinely want each other to have the best possible live. The relationship seems very real, if not a happy one and it does develop over the book.
This post is mostly just one giant squee because I loved the book so much. It was well paced, it had tons of action, sweet character interaction, relationships, spaceships, good worldcraft and high drama. It is a space opera in the true sense of the world. I very much recommend it it!
If you want to read a more in depth and systematic review, on top of my ramblings, check out The Book Smuggler’s review.
The author: Female, POC, USA
The protagonist: Alana Quick, lesbian, POC, sky surgeon (Space ship mechanic), chronically ill (autoimmune disorder).