Goodreads summary: “Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, Edie’s mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she’s not entirely sure it’s a bad thing . . . until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn’s side, he dies. If she doesn’t cooperate, the pirates will kill them both.
But Edie’s abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she’ll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure . . . a world called Scarabaeus.”
Last month’s alt-pick for the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, I enjoyed this a lot and immediately downloaded the sequel for Kindle. I mean — space pirates! Slow-burn romance! Terraforming! A consolidated extra-terrestrial Empire vs. “Fringe” outer planets! Also, the heroine is an alien! Cool!
Edie, our protagonist, is a highly-skilled — possibly the best in her field — “cypherteck,” so she’s something of a hacker/repairperson/creator when it comes to data interfaces between hard technology and biological lifeforms. Creasy does not shy away from sci-fi technobabble, and it assists in drawing you into the world immediately, but readers who aren’t regular readers of sci-fi may find the instant onslaught of jargon a little off-putting. Even as a fan of the genre, I did have to re-read some sections to further engrain what the terms all meant in my head. I ended up not having much of an issue doing this, in terms of enjoying the book and moving along at a good pace, but I do wish there was a little more backstory given to some of these things. There are many mentions of the Evil Empire (so to speak) and a very abbreviated story about a war between said Empire and the Fringe planets, but there isn’t any information at all as to how the Empire was formed, or who or what it actually consists of. Similarly, though we are kind of able to piece together what all of the technology is through in media res descriptions of what Edie is doing, at no point is there any kind of background exposition of the history of this technology. I know that for some people this may not be necessary, but personally I enjoy a bit of history in my world-building.
The above is my main gripe with this book. Otherwise, I enjoyed the characterization and pacing in this novel, as well as the developing relationship between Edie and Finn. Their romance struck me as the right combination of respect and attraction, and I’ll be interested to see where it goes in the sequel. I expect, based on the way things were here, that the two of them may take on an “us against the world” mentality, but if they don’t, I’d like to see more development of Cat’s character. Here, we learned that she’s a good pilot, but that she can be fairly easily bought, even if she knows she isn’t exactly doing the right thing. I’d like to know a little more about her, since Edie did show signs of interest in a friendship with her in the first book.
There are a lot of directions Creasy can take this series, and I’ll definitely be following along.