A ragtag band of explorers are looking to make the biggest score in the galaxy.
I was provided an advanced copy of this book for review by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Far in the future, genemod machines have the capability of altering a person’s appearance and even curing disease by editing that person’s very DNA. This is made possible in part by the existence of transurides: cosmic metals that can do things that the known metals cannot.
However, those metals are extremely rare. Nearly a century ago a treasure trove of them was found by explorer Goberling but he never shared the secret of its location.
Nika Rik Terri is one of the best genemodders there is. But after being forced to use technology that she developed by Company operatives, she has to go on the run before she becomes a loose end that needs tying up. She ends up on board The Road, a ship whose captain might just be the clue that unlocks the secret of where Goberling’s transuride planet can be found.
Guys, this book read like a Treasure Island/Planet kind of book and it was just so much fun. It wasn’t a knock off or retelling by any means but it had that same sense of adventure and excitement. The pacing of this book was just wonderful, the story picked up at the beginning and just never really stopped.
This might seem like a small thing but possibly my favorite thing was how Josune and Nika (the two POVs for the book) reacted to each other when they finally met.
Nike is a genemodder and Josune is an engineer so their professions are pretty different but they both have the same attitude of “I know what I’m doing, back off and let me do it.” They have a little bit of the stereotypical no BS attitude that I feel is really common in sci fi stories from its female characters. So naturally when those characters tend to meet there is this cattiness and paranoia and distrust that gets really annoying to me.
Josune and Nika didn’t do that! They weren’t exactly braiding each others hair and having pillow fights but they quickly found a mutual respect for each other and just skipped all the petty cattiness and pissing contests and I was so thankful for it!
Now, as much as I loved all that, I have to admit that all the characters did kind of blend together. Nika and Josune, Carlos (another engineer) and Jacques (the ship cook), they could have been interchanged for each other at almost any point. Their personalities were so similar that at times it felt like their only differences were their professions. For what this book was, a pure entertaining adventure story, this wasn’t too big of a deal but it was noticeable.
Perhaps because of this, the one romantic couple in the story I just was not totally sold on their chemistry. I liked both of them but just didn’t feel much between them.
As for the sci fi parts of the story, in all honestly, the world is pretty much the same setup that you see inmost post-Earth SF stories. Lots of planets, some form of instantaneous travel, corporations taking over, currency referred to as “credits” and being all electronic. The gene modding had a pretty heavy focus in the book but beyond “we can alter DNA” and the occasional talk about hoses and valves and whatnot, it doesn’t get overly scientific. That really isn’t a mark for or against it unless you are looking for something that is more hard sci fi. Stars Uncharted is based largely on tech that we haven’t even began to really develop in reality and so the story plays with what could be possible eventually without getting to deep into the hows and whys.
What genemodding seemed capable of felt really broad at times to the point that it could have easily led to some deus ex machina stuff happening, especially with the ending. But really, I felt like the authors paid really close attention to that and avoided any such plot holes or cheap tricks really neatly. A foundation was laid for everything that happened and was used so it never felt like solutions were just pulled out of nowhere.
Long story short, while I did feel like this book had some flaws and it isn’t one that is out to change the genre by any means, it was a lot of fun to read and go on an adventure with.