This is the first time I have ever read a space opera in which some of the scenes take place on derelict abandoned space ships. What a cool concept. Instead of all the foreign alien stuff taking place on a planet’s surface, it takes place within ships and stations that have been abandoned and are just floating around. It’s such a simple, original idea I wonder why it hasn’t been done before, but as far as I know, this is the first time this idea has really been used.
The novel is sectioned into three parts. In part one, the main character (whose name I don’t remember, because they all call her “Boss”) finds a very old and historically valuable ship and takes a crew there to dive it. The comparison between diving abandoned spaceships and sunken nautical ships is a great one. It has some of the same elements: people are wearing tiny habitats and moving into an environment hostile to human life, where one mis-step could mean death. Perhaps as a result, everyone is very careful, very cautious, and emotionally mature.
In part two, the protagonist gets a very lucrative contract to retrieve a person who went missing in the “Room of Lost Souls,” a mysterious and dangerous place where the protagonist’s own mother lost her life in the beginning prologue that I had sort of almost forgotten about.
Part three deals with the Boss’s desire for revenge (not really revenge, but I’m going to call it that to avoid spoilers) based on what happened in the first two parts. The end is tidy–a fact I heartily approve of–while leaving it open for sequels.
This book has some good things about it and some only so-so things about it. The crew members have a lot of professionalism, and the professional courtesy that goes along with it, but it’s not like the crew of the Firefly or something. They know each other, and they get along, but they’re not super best buddies. They just didn’t gel for me. They weren’t cardboard, but they weren’t characters I really liked and wanted to hear more about. Like I said before, all the characters were cautious and careful and mature, which would make them great people to hang out with, but not the sort of people to make huge easily-preventable mistakes that lead to entertaining train wrecks. All the main conflict is external, and the conflict is mostly confined to the third act. People acted like people, not like action heroes who are used to violent life-or-death scenarios. Listening to this book was a little like looking at a Disney movie back when they were doing normal human features instead of the anime-eyes; it’s more realistic, but kind of plain if you’re used to stuff that’s larger-than-life action and suspense. On a scale of zero to Michael Bay, this is about a 5. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on personal taste. I would have liked a bit more action.
I got the audioversion and I don’t think I liked the narrator. She put a lot of long, unnatural pauses in her sentences, as if she were using William Shatner as her main role model. I sped it up to cover some of it, but the weird pacing still bothered me. It wasn’t enough to ruin my experience, but it was definitely a negative. If you’re on the fence about whether to listen to this or read it, it might push towards reading it instead.