Author: AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Moore
Genre: science fiction
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published: expected March 21 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
"Firefly" meets DUNE in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.
Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.
There is a lot to enjoy about Shadow Run. A co-authored YA science fiction novel, this high-octane read spans galaxies and stellar empires with an intense and relentless plot. With plenty of room to play and imagination to burn, the two collaborating authors of Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland have created an action-filled scifi adventure with MURDER DRONES IN SPACE and so much more to make those pages fly. Fast-paced, action-filled, and teeming with cool ideas and interesting characters, Shadow Run is just plain fun entertainment.
Told in strong and distinct alternating POVs, Miller and Strickland use their two main narrating characters to complement, contrast, and challenge each other. Shadow Run follows the escapades of Qole, a young starship captain eking out survival on an unforgiving planet and Nev, the newest addition to the Kaitain Heritage's crew. Qole and Nev are thrown together under some stressful circumstances and must learn to work together or face merciless forces and enemies; their relationship's progress is fraught at times but authentic. They are both well-defined and rounded characters on their own, but together they have an easy chemistry that lends well to establishing a growing attraction between them.
Characters are well-drawn across the board in this series beginner, but the members of Qole's crew are particularly lifelike and get more time and attention to develop. Each crewmate has a pivotal impact on the plot and come into play neatly. From Basra, the gender fluid crew member to Telu the underage female hacker, they each have unique personality and personal dynamism that makes the group stand out. I also loved how much of a nonfactor Basra's gender fluidity was to the story and to the other characters -- some days Basra is female and some days he is male. It's treated as a matter of fact -- just a part of life, as much as gravity or Shadow or Qole's unique Shadow capabilities.
There are some cool and imaginative scifi ideas being introduced and explored in Shadow Run's universe. The eponymous Shadow angle -- a new idea for a power source [for people too!] and also neatly ties in a few plot threads, allowing for some clever plotting down the line. I am less impressed with the world building established for how humanity functions in a stellar diaspora when it comes to the Emperor/Kings rule of law. The way the interconnected governments/families function need to be explained more, or better, in future novels, especially if the ending of Shadow Run foretells further imperial involvement in the series overall plot.
Though the comparisons to Dune (which is more of an ecological SF than a space-faring action adventure) and Firefly (found family feels!) are a bit of a stretch, Shadow Run is a fun, fast, exciting SF jaunt.