Alana Quick loves working on spaceships - and she's good at it. She can feel the hurts of the machinery, tune it up, make it run smoother, salve its pains. But stuck planetside working with her aunt in a world where independent space flight isn't bringing as many customers their way and the bills are piling up. So when someone comes looking for her sister, Nova, Alana sees an opportunity and stows away.
Space is everything she dreamed it would be - and also a number of things she never imagined, good and bad. But the biggest bad is in unravelling the desires of an enormous corporation which has affected every aspect of their universe, and which will stop at nothing to find Nova.
Alana is an interesting main character, unusual in almost every aspect. She's an older woman, in her 30s, who works as an engineer. She's also a black lesbian with a chronic pain disorder, who has to take meds regularly to manage the pain. Had a friend, when I was talking about this book, say "sounds like someone's pushing an agenda."
But... no. No, the main character happens to be all of those things, and all of those things define her, but there's nothing of crusading and pushing-in-your-faceness unless you're the sort of person who interprets "I can't pretend that this thing doesn't exist" as "this thing is being shoved in my face and flaunted all over." And if that's who you are, the problem is not with the book.
So, I love the main character, who's a bit impulsive and in her attempts to do what she feels she should, can sometimes make real problems for other people. Problems she then needs to deal with.
I wish I could say I love this book and recommend it unabashedly. But unfortunately, this is a first book, and comes with many of the problems that a new author can have. The plot isn't really solid, and meanders a good deal, especially in the first half. There's also a LOT of overwriting early on, and I had to force through some sections because there was enough good there that I wanted to get to the next scene and see if it improves. At some point, the book shifts gears almost entirely into a romance, hangs out there for a while, and then shifts back. It feels a little poorly integrated, and I wish it didn't feel like everything else got put on hold for that subplot.
But by the final third or so, I felt like the book had found its groove and gave us a solid if somewhat anticlimactic ending because of the previously mentioned looseness of the early narrative. Most of the characters felt sort of poorly described - I still don't get what was up with the other engineer, for instance - but as I said, I liked the main character enough to let that go.
I will probably be giving the second book a try if/when it comes out. There was enough good in this to make me feel like the greater experience of a sophomore writer could really put something strong together.