Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Sarah Hoyt's Darkship Revenge
Have you ever sat in a cab at three in the morning with no fare in the back reading when you should have been taking a nap? Have you ever gotten home from a thirteen hour shift driving a cab knowing you only had five hours to sleep before you went back and did it all over again and sat starting at words on a cell phone screen anyway? If not I'm guessing that either:
A.) You've never read Darkship Revenge by Prometheus Award winner Sarah Hoyt.
B.) You don't drive a cab and work midnights.
First the disclaimer: This is the third book in a series. I think it would work pretty well as a stand-alone but I've read the first two. The reader may want to start with Darkship Thieves and Darkship Renegades. Then again, you don't really NEED to unless you're anal about reading a series in publication order like a certain blogger we all know and lone. *COUGH*
The story centers around Athena Hera Sinistra, daughter of Goodman Sinistra, ruler of one of the seacities in Hoyt's future Earth. Athena is an interesting character, possibly in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse. She was raised to be a body donor for her father. He did what he had to do to attempt to control her. It didn't work very well. I wouldn't want to be the guy who tried to control Thena. I guess that makes me smarter than him. Then again, Daddy Dearest was gene-engineered to be smarter than the rest of us, sooo... yup. Smarter than anyone who would try to control this chick. She's a little out there. But what do I mean by a littler out there? Either she is;
1.) Totally off her rocker (I don't believe this but she seems to.)
2.) A little "off" (Totally possible)
3.) A sociopath who somehow manages to care about her family, if not anyone else (I'm thinking no, but some of Thena's thoughts about herself seem to tend in this direction)
4.) A hardcore pragmatist who ignores humanistic concerns (This sort of works, but not really. She does act like her nuclear family and her in-laws. Also, her treatment of the boys in the story is both pragmatic and humanistic.)
5.) The only sane person left (This options scares the hell out of me. What she does works too well to be crazy, but if THIS is what sane looks like...)
Since Wonder Woman was my last review, let me say this as well: This is how you do an empowered female character. Thena is a take-no-prisoners, no-holds-barred type who sees what needs to be done and does it. She won't take know for an answer and she survives things that would kill most people. Thena doesn't give up when she has a goal in mind, ever. She has the protective instinct in spades and she cannot be stopped when it comes to defending her own.
Thena has a child in the first few pages of the book and, while she doesn't think she will make a good mother, she actually does in her own fashion. I mean, I'm not sure that having an infant strapped to your chest during a firefight is all that great of an idea even if you can't find a babysitter but Thena manages to do it without getting either one of them killed so... It's all good... I guess? Right?
The supporting cast is also impressive. Thena's husband Kit lives and breathes as much as if he were sitting next to you on the couch. The kids Thena and company end up saving come across as true to life as well. I started out wanting to hate these kids but the time the story was over I wanted to adopt one. (I'll admit that it didn't hurt that they had named themselves after famous fictional characters. OK, so maybe I'm a little testy about a story that includes a Christopher Robin but no Tigger but I'll get over it.) Nat, Luce, Simon all seem real. I could almost feel the stress these guys were going through myself.
The story itself has a relentless pace. I've heard it said that if an author feels their story becoming boring they should drop a mountain on their characters. Well, I'm guessing that Hoyt believes in pre-emptive strikes and that the Himalayas are missing a few peaks, because the hits keep coming and the action doesn't stop.
Part of why I like this story is because I love a good villain and Hoyt's Good Men are the type of person I can totally love to hate. Anyone who would send down a plague to wipe out most of humanity in order to enslave the leftovers is worth killing. What they do to the children in their care is quite frankly disgusting as well. Hoyt has obviously taken great care in gifting us with people we can root against. She's done a damn fine job. It's not often that an author can make me hate a group of characters badly enough to want to choke them all to death but Hoyt manages it with aplomb.
The technology in Darkship Revenge is either really cool or horrifying. Gene-engineered space plants that grow power pods that you can run a city with are sweet. Characters fly around on anti-gravity powered brooms. Flying cars are everywhere. And of course, the plio revolves around defeating a biological weapon that is devastating.
There is one facet of Darkship Revenge that drives me batshit insane. Hoyt's characters shoot at each other with weapons called burners. They're kind of a cross between a phaser pistol and a welding torch. In and of itself that's okay. The problem emerges with the unbelievable shooting skill her characters display under pressure. I mean, the miracle head shots displayed in The Walking Dead make me crazy but what these characters do with burners is at least an order of magnitude more difficult. That being said, it's called The Rule of Cool for a reason. All in all though, this book kicked ass.
Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Brooms
Darkship Revenge is available at the following link: