*** Cross-posted from Marina’s Musings***

Anyone who is familiar with my reading preferences knows that the reason I love reading sci-fi and fantasy is for the opportunity to explore Big Ideas. But sometimes, it’s good to just curl up with myKindle and a bag of popcorn and allow myself to enjoy a book equivalent of a quality B-movie. (By the way, it doesn’t seem that Hollywood makes those anymore. Everything is either super-blockbuster or yawn-worthy Oscar bait. But that’s a post for another day.)

The beauty of this book is that it works exactly as advertised: light, fast-paced, with likable characters and just enough sci-fi element to make it interesting. It’s almost a throwback these days, when every author wants to write something deep and meaningful but increasingly fewer remember to entertain.

There were a few details I appreciated, and that’s the reason the book rises above the standard a "just good" novel. First, the two main characters, both the man and the woman, get through their adventures not simply on their technical and fighting skills, but also on their ability to outwit the enemy. This is important, especially nowadays when everyone focuses to the point of obsession on whether or not a female lead can fight as well or better than the male, or whether there is some kind of parity achieved between the two. Matt and Michelle are a couple. They face danger together, come up with solutions together, but they are not both equally good at everything at the same time. When they’re not fighting villains or trying to keep their spaceship from exploding, they also act plausibly as two young people would. They are in love, but are unsure of the relationship, a far cry from many of today’s cynical, know-it-all protagonists. Their growth as both action heroes and a romantic couple is interesting to watch and avoids eye-rolling cliches while still giving us mostly what we expect.

My main quibble is that while the Big Reveal at the end is suitably breathtaking, the villain we finally get to see is somewhat of a disappointment and too easily defeated. I don’t normally have an issue with that (Dean Koontz, one of my favorite authors, is famous-or infamous, depending on where you stand on the matter-for building up his villains to ridiculous proportions, then dispatching them with ease). However, I was left wanting more of the final confrontation. The good news is that the novel is listed as a beginning of a new series, so I’m sure Matt and Michelle will meet plenty of worthy adversaries along the way and rise to the occasion. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the future.

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