Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker
Subscribers to my email newsletter have already heard the saga of my hunt for a new series to read. Long story short, I signed up for a bunch of authors’ newsletters in exchange for freebies, and Lindsay Buroker’s had the distinction of being the only one worth reading.
The Alliance has defeated the tyrannical empire, but the danger is far from over for fighter pilot captain Alisa Marchenko. Stranded on a mafia-controlled dust ball of a planet with no resources, her only chance at reuniting with her daughter is to steal a dilapidated freighter from a junkyard filled with lawless savages. As if that weren’t difficult enough, an elite cyborg soldier—one who no doubt slaughtered many of her comrades during the war—is squatting in the ship. To see her daughter again, Alisa must either get rid of him, or do the unthinkable: join him.
The way women are portrayed in action books/movies is one of my biggest pet peeves. Often, the ninety-pound ninja in tight leather pants and six-inch heels can take down a three-hundred-pound brute without messing up the perfect hair she neglected to put in a ponytail. When not hypersexualized, female action characters are often masculinized into men with boobs. Alisa Marchenko is a refreshing exception.
Alisa’s role as a mother drives her actions. Clever and funny, her character exudes a different sort of strength. Rather than ignore the physical disadvantage Alisa has compared to the hulky cyborg, the author capitalizes on that difference to create interesting conflicts and plot points. Alisa must rely on her wits (and guns and various explosive devices) to get herself out of trouble. Her character embodies what I feel the term “strong female lead” should mean. Just because she couldn’t beat a cyborg in a boxing match doesn’t mean she can’t kick ass.
The other characters represent the typical motley crew of any space opera—the eccentric scientist, the doctor, the brute, the comic relief. They are interesting enough to hold their weight in the story, but I suspect I will learn more about them as the series progresses. I highly recommend signing up to the author’s mailing list so you can read the prequel, which tells the cyborg’s story. Without that, he may come across stiff.
With mafia, space pirates, Octavian blood bears, and no shortage of explosions, this book has everything an action fan could want. The plot progresses at a great pace, with minor obstacles leading into bigger obstacles. The author weaves in enough foreshadowing to generate interest in book two, but not so much as to bog down book one.
Subscribers to my newsletter have already heard me complain about the terrible writing in many of the free books I sampled. Lindsay Buroker, however, writes wonderfully. While not the detailed and mellifluous prose I adore in more literary genres, her writing is clear and well suited to a more action-oriented space opera. She provides enough information immerse the reader in the world without bogging down the plot. Pithy humor punctuates the action scenes, and dialogue weaves through the action such that I never felt like I was eavesdropping on a board meeting. In short, she is a skilled writer. As I told my husband, “It contains none of the parts you usually skip.”
After slogging through many free e-books, I finally found one worth reading. Space Nomad has everything I’m looking for in a space opera—action, explosions, pirates, political intrigue, and cool space battles. Quirky and lovable characters form a crew who faces impossible odds. They persevere via each member’s unique talents and form the bonds that will carry them through the series.
I have already put a hold on the next two books at my local library. If that isn’t recommendation enough, I don’t know what is.
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