Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 21st 2017
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, LGBT, Action & Adventure
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"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.
This book was seriously out of this world – I pretty much read it in one sitting! With a diverse cast of characters, phenomenal world-building, and full of heart-stopping action that keeps readers on their toes, Shadow Run introduces us to space like we’ve never seen before. I absolutely adored the crew of the Kaitan Heritage, a ship from Alaxak who captures Shadow and somehow gets embroiled in a galactic feud. From the secretive Basra to the hard-headed Eton, each of them come alive within the pages of the book and IT’S SO HARD NOT TO LOVE THEM. Seriously, can I say they’re all my children? Because please, my life.
Shadow Run starts from the first person POV of Nev, a prince in hiding as a cargo loader of the Kaitan Heritage. Remember, the ship where I told you it’s hard not to love all the crew? The story shifts back and forth from his and Qole’s POV, who is the captain of the Kaitan Heritage and has developed a resilience against Shadow, an energy that can be captured and harvested, with good and bad effects. While you can use Shadow to power things from machinery to your average fire, the risks of being Shadow-poisoned are also great. But what happens if Shadow could somehow be used without negative side effects for humans? That’s a question worth putting into test, which is why Nev wants Qole’s help with discovering how to find that solution.
‘If… if people understood what you can do, it would change everything. For you, for people here, for everyone. You could be the key.’
But what Nev can’t account for are the numerous twists that are out of his hands, from the political machinations of his father, one of the several kings in this galaxy, to the real reason why his uncle, an avid scientist, wants to get his hands on Qole or anyone else with her abilities. Nev is such a sweet character, and tends to see things through rose-tinted glasses, mainly because of the way he was brought up. The royal family of his stresses to uphold the “ideal” for its citizens, absolutely against the other royal families who would resort to manipulation and deception to get at its goals. However, he begins to realize through the course of his journey with the Kaitan Heritage crew that his family is not what it seems from the outside. His association with Qole will put his beliefs to the test more than ever. I absolutely adored his character growth despite being thrown into one situation after another. His resilient character, and ability to smile throughout it all, really makes me day.
A whole galaxy of knowledge lay between our worlds, not just an actual galaxy.
Qole, on the other hand, sees the world through a different lense. Her family has been Shadow-fishing throughout the years, building up a tolerance against it. Her abilities to captain a ship are accentuated by how she can almost control the Shadow to an extent – an idea that will be pushed farther within the bounds of this book. She’s grown up with a fear of her life ending shorter than normal, consumed by Shadow, like her parents and theirs before. With this comes a mistrust with people with idealistic views like Nev. But despite that, his optimistic words leads into her putting her trust in him and following him to his own home city to help people, hopefully also finding a solution so her own lifespan doesn’t end as early as her parents and elder brother did. When she arrives to Dracorva, though, another story comes out.
Within this book aren’t only the tangible battles such as the court intrigue that comes up when the crew lands in Dracorva, but also the ideological battles cemented within society. We explore the discrimination based on race, as Qole and several other members of her crew are a minority on the outskirts of the galaxy who are treated as rustic and old-fashioned. And while there are the internal conflicts such as Qole’s mentality against the force of the Shadow, there are also more hidden conflicts, like the financial system of the galaxy, that also play a big role on how the story plays through. Strickland and Miller weave all these facets of the plot in effortlessly, creating an un-put-downable story in every way.
There are several romances in this book, one between the narrators and a side one that is just as captivating. Nev and Qole’s initial impressions are very hesitant and wary. Nev’s on a mission, while Qole wants the best for her crew. But over a period of time (while they save each other from common enemies and learn more about the other), their feelings start to progress. I thought the tension and pacing was really well-done and overall super delightful. I also loved the conflict between Nev and Qole’s beliefs, based on how they grew up. Nev’s optimism is a great foil to Qole’s mistrust and apprehension. It was awesome to see what each could learn from the other, all while supporting them along the way. Within the crew, we also see fleeting romantic progression between Basra, a mysterious genderfluid character and Nev’s brother, Arjan, whose has wonderful familial dynamics with his sister. And – ugh, I JUST LOVE ALL OF THEM.
His touch, warm and solid, drove through me as it had on the destroyer, a solar flare bursting through his skin and radiating through my whole body. Something inside me rose to meet it, a mix of emotions so strong that I didn’t know how to fight it off.
One minor problem that didn’t detract from my reading enjoyment but did make me pause a bit was how extremely powerful the crew of the Kaitan Heritage is. Like don’t get me wrong, I like strong characters as much as the next reader, but their physical abilities are really quite amazing – and OP (overpowered), if I may say so myself. There’s almost a trace of deus ex machina in how the main conflict was resolved, which proved a bit disappointing after all the action-filled build-up. But the main thing is: how the heck did these powerful characters end up in an ice-cold planet chasing Shadow? I actually really can’t wait for these questions to be answered hopefully in the sequel, but it DID lend some believability issues in this particular book, just because they manage to do some pretty amazing feats through skill alone. Nonetheless, it’s just my aversion to OP characters in general that made me want to point this out.
Shadow Run has pretty much all you need in an adventure – a glorious setting, plenty of character growth, witty banter, internal and external conflicts that are just begging to be explored, and a volatile storyline that you can’t get enough of. Readers will immediately be drawn to Nev and Qole’s voice as they travel through the galaxy to fight for their beliefs. Immediately reminiscent of books like Illuminae and Starflight, I’d recommend Shadow Run for all science fiction lovers, and the readers out there looking for an unforgettable adventure and a ragtag crew that will defy all expectations.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the review copy!