Monday, April 9, 2012

Early Review - Zero Gravity Outcasts by Kay Keppler

Minka Shokat only needs two things in life: her fourth-generation Wayfarer spaceship, and two best friends and crewmates by her side. Anjali and Tex were the only people to stand by her after she was falsely branded a traitor and kicked out of Central Command five years ago. 

Since then, Minka has kept as far from Command as the galaxy will allow. Working with her friends on their own terms beats flying warships any day. But keeping her junker of a ship flying takes money-money that Minka and her crew don't have. As a last resort, she reluctantly accepts a job transporting cargo for Central Command. 

Then she finds out what her "cargo" is: the very general who ruined her reputation and currently needs Minka to deliver him safely to a peace conference. Now Minka and her biggest rival must work together to fight off space pirates, commandos and rebels who are determined to stop their mission-or be blown out of the skies for good. 

Review:  This novella is a very short read at 25,000 words.  It is a snippet in the life of disgraced military flight cadet Minka Shokat and her crew of misfits.  Minka was dishonorably discharged from the military, and as a result, was not allowed to purchase spaceship fuel or access to a well-paying civilian job.  She had to use whatever money she could come up with to purchase an older generation space ship, and then find a mechanic that could make her money-saving ideas a reality.  Minka makes her living by hauling cargo.  

She is joined on board by mechanic, Tex, and best friend Anjali.  The three friends are partners in this venture and live from job-to-job.  One day, a big job comes in from Central Command - the military that humiliated Minka five years prior.  Against Minka's better judgment, they agree to take on this haul, and unbeknownst to Minka, her former lover, Rayne, is coming along to guard the cargo.  

It turns out that the Central Command cargo is actually a person, and after the crew takes flight, pirates begin attacking them because of this person.  There is a short mystery surrounding the "cargo" which is all wrapped up quite neatly at the end.

I had a few problems with this novella.  First, this seemed like a prologue to a series.  It was very short and it was really only one small story in the lives of these characters.  Also, this story lacked character development.  Unfortunately, I didn't really end up caring about any of these characters.  I expected some sexual tension between Rayne and Minka, seeing as they were once lovers that parted on bad terms.  There was very little tension, and I felt like the ending was too wrapped up in regards to these two.  Minka went from having a very large issue with Rayne to being okay with him in a matter of 25,000 words.  Rayne also had a very quick turn around in this book.  He went very quickly from completely trusting Central Command to seeing the organization for what it really is without much prodding.  Tex and Amjali were okay as characters, but they were very one-dimensional in my opinion.  Tex was the gay mechanic who kept Shouting out, "girlfriend" and Amjali was the loyal best friend who stuck by Minka's side. 

The world building was also sparse in this novella.  The reader was given the history of Central Command, and we were introduced to an world where spaceships flew between different planets, but that was pretty much it.  This world could have used more depth to it.  Again, I felt like I was reading a prologue to an already established series.  

This book has a good premise, but it needs work in character and world development.  There are some interesting character backstories presented, but we didn't get the entire background on even one person.  I'd like to see a full-length novel based upon this idea with a darker and grittier feel to it.


Aneta said...

Very nice review! Followed! I'm currently doing something similar, if you're interested, though I don't know if classics are urban?

Jamie said...

Thanks, Aneta!

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