Stargazer by Colby Hodge

Lilly is the princess of an agricultural paradise of a planet (named Oasis), who is at war with it's neighbor, a desert planet that squandered it's environment and is now after Oasis' resources.  Hoping to ask for help from the galaxy's governing body, Lilly is on a transport ship headed towards the Senate when her ship is suddenly attacked. She escapes with Shaun, a prisoner who was in a cryogenic chamber on the same transport. Shaun is an mystery; a man with rare grey eyes who can communicate mentally, something that before only Lilly and the women of Circe could do.

The cover: I just had to say that I think this book has possibly one of the worst covers of any book I own. It's awful. 

Overall: I'd put this down as an average read. The writing had a stilted quality to it and the story was predictable, but if you want space opera, this certainly qualifies. Stargazer jumps at a dizzying pace from one location in the galaxy to another, from swamp planets with prehistoric lizards, to mining planets where everyone lives underground. I kept feeling like it was vaguely familiar and I realized that a lot of things remind me of Star Wars and of Dune. We have a princess needing help from the Senate, a prisoner in a cryo-chamber, and a male with powers only women had before among other things.

Despite sometmies feeling deja vu, there were some moments that stood out. My favorite part would be the when Lilly and Shaun finally arrive at the Senate. Here there seemed to be some time spent on describing some of the culture of their enemies. The reader sees how the Circe women treat their men as slaves, shuttling them around with neck braces that inhibit their will, and the gladiator games that went on there showed the dark underside of the galaxy. I felt like this was the most absorbing part of the book for me, but unfortunately most of the book didn't seem to have the same focus on world building as this section did. I wanted things to slow down and have more context. For example, I thought Lilly and Shaun were in Oasis at one point only to be informed they were somewhere else, without any transition or explanation that that's where they were going. And for about the first third of the book I started wondering when they slept. I know that on the transport Lilly had to go into a sleep chamber, but after escaping, all space travel afterwards seemed to take no time whatsoever. There were other places like this where missing details threw me out of the story.

Another issue I had was the predictability. I could tell from the first 10 pages what the big reveal was going to be and it's not hard to guess from Shaun's grey eyes. Yet this is kept a surprise for a long time. It was also not hard to guess what characters were going to do because hints would be dropped beforehand.

Maybe this can be attributed to it being the first book for the author in the genre. I'm still willing to keep reading. Oasis' enemies have been stopped for now, but they won't be down for long, so the ongoing intruiges and plotting will continue. Shaun's devil may care pirate friend Rubin was a major player here so I wasn't surprised to find he's the hero in book 2, Shooting Star. The trilogy concludes with Star Shadows

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