February 24, 2019

Review: Shadow Run

Shadow Run Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've seen this compared to the early-oughts TV series Firefly, but I've never seen Firefly. I will say that this is a young adult (barely; the protagonists Nev and Qole [and how do you pronounce that? I decided on "Cole"] are nineteen and seventeen respectively) space opera, with occasionally wobbly science, decent worldbuilding, good pacing, and excellent characterization. The latter two elements are what held the book together for me in the face of silly science mistakes (mainly confusing "star system" with "galaxy," which drives me nuts but isn't uncommon).

This is the story of a planet of scrappy "Shadow"-fishers (apparently based on one of the authors' real-life experiences as a fisherperson in Alaska) facing off against royals and rich families who want to exploit them. I never did get a very good handle on what "Shadow" is exactly, other than a mysterious energy element that is abundant in the planet Alaxak's asteroid belt. This vagueness seemed to be deliberate; perhaps the explanation is left for the sequel? At any rate, Captain Qole Uvgamut is the youngest Shadow-fishing captain in the system, and the book opens in media res from the viewpoint of our second protagonist, Nev, who has just joined Qole's ship, the Kaitan Heritage, for reasons of his own. Nev is not at all who he seems to be, and his mission for his family leads to his entanglement with Qole and her crew. (Qole's crew and the other secondary characters are as finely drawn as the two leads, with showing instead of telling and no infodumping. Pertinent information is revealed as it comes up in the story, and just as much as is needed for the moment. These two authors are clearly in command of their craft, and it makes this book a joy to read.)

This story is a steady, well-paced escalation of stakes, with the conflicts focused on, and arising from, the characters. There is a romance, but it is an understated, restrained one, which I appreciated. Our characters, particularly Nev, are put through hell, but we see what they are made of. This is a damn fine story, and I've already plunged into the sequel.

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