Books, YA Fiction

Starflight, by Melissa Landers


4 Stars

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…

Starflight doesn’t seem to be the most popular release of this year, but it definitely should be. I haven’t had this much Firefly-esque fun since The Lunar Chronicles. It definitely proves you don’t need a ton of angst, science, and drama to entertain.

The story begins with Solara analyzing the populace willing to acquire a servant, as she is just released from her “group home”. Solara is so desperate to find a new life she indentures herself to the rich asshole who hated her during high school, Doran. As Solara soon attempts to escape onto a new ship by tricking Doran, their plan goes wrong as they discover secrets about themselves and others that could put them in grave danger. After that, Doran and Solara go on a series of crazy adventures that include space pirates, death duels, and lots of other questionable antics.

I was surprised by the little depth and science-y topics in this book, but it’s not a bad thing. If anything, I would say it made the book better. There is no excessive information about a random science subject and that makes it a pretty understandable read. I would have preferred a bit more world-building, because we are in space after all! The world seems quite similar to the era we are in today, except there are spaceships, upgraded tech, and space pirates! How cool is that? I must say though, the lack of scientific depth is definitely made up by the sheer excitement of the action scenes. Doran and Solara’s meeting with the frightening pirates is one of my favorite parts of the book, solely due to effortlessness of the humor and genuinity of the writing. The humor is present throughout the book, and it’s added wisely to the most realistic areas. This aspect is quite similar to The Lunar Chronicles, as they are both lighter on the science yet try to scatter the fun around, really making an enjoyable read even if it is not the most thought-provoking.

Solara is easily one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s constantly challenged and forced to take the most difficult actions solely due to her social status, but her spirit and determination never diminishes. Her narration was very enjoyable, due to her hilarious one-liners and impassive personality. Doran is set up to be a spoiled jerk, which is exactly what he was in the beginning of the book. While he starts off as unlikable, his character development is actually remarkable, considering how pampered he was starting off. Throughout the story, he learns to stretch and truly become confident in himself. The side characters aren’t as focused on, but Landers dives deep enough to pique our interests for their stories in the next book.

Solara and Doran’s love story might seem a bit cliche, but wonderful nonetheless. They are both put together out of necessity and are forced to develop an “allies” relationship throughout their adventures. Their love-hate attitude towards each other and their witty banter goes surprisingly well together.

Overall, I would definitely suggest this book for someone who is looking to properly experience the fun and lightness of Firefly and The Lunar Chronicles. I will definitely be reading the next book.