I’ve been lusting after this book for a while, so long in fact, that I forgot exactly where I first learned of it’s existence and my need to own it, but I vaguely remembered it was an author’s blog on my friend’s list. Turns out that was Ilona Andrews, who had a guest post by Sarah A. Hoyt about Darkship Thieves in January last year (now that’s a long time to want a book, but not really my longest stretch – sad isn’t it?) In her post she talked about this space opera where a bad-girl socialite heroine with Daddy issues meets a bio-engineered hero with calico-hair and issues on top of other issues. Anyway, I not-so-subtly asked for it for Christmas – and lo, it is mine.
The Premise: Athena Hera Sinistra was sleeping in her father’s space cruiser in a return trip to Earth, when she wakes up to find someone in her room. Although Athena is a socialite, she’s also been put in to, and escaped from, several boarding schools and institutions, and she has the ability to sometimes move at speeds that others cannot match. One thing leads to another, and Athena flees in a life pod, her father’s goons in hot pursuit. In desperation, she flies into dangerous territory and stumbles upon Kit Klaavil, a prickly man who surprises her by having even faster reflexes than her own super-speed.
My Thoughts: I was pretty happy to begin this book and have it match my expectations of page-turning action and space opera goodness. Racing through the bowels of a space ship and beating up thugs along the way, followed by a pursuit in space, and a surprising rescue — it’s good stuff. The reaction of Kit and Athena to each other was hilarious — even though Athena is over-matched, she uses all the dirty tricks at her disposal, and Kit’s reaction to this is fun to follow. Once the dust settled, I was glued to the pages, wondering where things would go next.
The story doesn’t disappoint in it’s exploration of Kit’s character, and in turn Athena’s when Kit takes Athena back to his home — an asteroid home to people very different from Earth, but whose very existence and beliefs are due to Athena’s home world. As Athena struggles to figure out Kit’s world and it’s rules, we’re introduced to ideas about the ethics of genetic manipulation, cloning, societal laws, and bureaucracy. These ideas were very provocative, but I was most drawn to the characters in this story, and into the odd courtship that takes place between Kit and Athena. Darkship Thieves isn’t quite a science fiction romance because a lot of the story deals with things like technology and morality, and there isn’t a focus on romance, but there is a quiet progress towards a relationship. I think that Kit, who lives with the world at arm’s length, is now a favorite hero although I also quite like Athena’s tough, unloved, rich girl voice.
Of course, being a girl who likes the falling-in-love bits, after the relationship hit a particular point and the story gets back to the conspiracy that led to why Athena had to flee her father’s spaceship, I think I lost a little interest. I don’t know if it was the pacing, or my just wanting more of Kit and Athena together, but the last part of the book didn’t have quite the zing I felt in the first. The more I think about it, the more I think it may have been the latter for me, but I think this is the only real problem I had with this book. The other was minor: when I first started reading Darkship Thieves, I thought Athena was in her mid-twenties and Kit was over thirty, when they were supposed to be 19 and 22. There was something in Athena’s been-there-seen-everything tone that made her seem older to me.
A note on the cover: Ug, I know. Half-naked women on covers does not draw in a female audience. All I can say in defense is that this scene does happen early on in the book and it does make sense in context.
Overall: Finding this space opera with a dash of romance has put me in a happy mood. Sarah Hoyt’s space opera has the edginess of Ann Aguirre’s minus (so far) the heartbreak. I’m eager to try other books by this author and I’m looking forward to the second book, Darkship Renegade, out sometime in 2011.
Bookdaze – positive review (“an entertaining adventure-packed romp”)
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