I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Paradox #2
Published by Orbit Books on February 25, 2014
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi
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Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.
After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she's determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi's not actually looking for it -- trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she's supposed to hate.
But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there's worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.
It’s no secret that I loved Rachel Bach’s first Paradox novel earlier this year. So much about it was spot on, but none more so than main character and narrator Deviana “Devi” Morris. Her outing and characterization in that series opener (titled Fortune’s Pawn) — that ball of action and battles and romantic chemistry like WHOA in SPAAACE that it was — was pitch perfect. It was balls to the wall awesome, labelled the Most Jessie of all Jessie Books, and it made an impression.
So to say I was excited for Honor’s Knight is a tad of an understatement. Oh boy, did it deliver a nearly perfect reading experience for a science fiction fan. Give me strong, capable, complete characters like this Paradoxian merc any day. Give me complicated and original plots like these and my SF/F addiction will go on unimpeded. Devi is arrogant and always ready for a fight, but she’s also compassionate, smart, and careful. She’s easily the most dynamic character, and it’s hard to resist getting sucked into her fanclub. I can’t say that I relate to her/everything she goes through (with my Earthbound and only regular ass-kicking abilities) on any kind of personal level, but I love her POV. She makes some dumb mistakes, and is far from immune from pain, but that only reinforced how Devi feels real in a way few main characters ever are.
Despite the comfortable familiarity of reading her inner monologue and narration, Devi is wrestling with all new threats here in book two. This isn’t a retread of the first book or a plotless, meandering story — Bach is actively building something big with her series. Each book adds to the overall picture; we, the audience, just are too close too see it clearly yet. We saw peeks of it beginning in Fortune’s Pawn, but ever so slightly, she draws back the curtain even more here in Honor’s Knight. It’s a pretty compelling and crazy plot — one that somehow makes invisible space monsters, government conspiracies, unchecked agencies with unlimited power altogether believable — but Bach sells it. Or rather, she sells it through Devi.
Though the same Firelfy-esque team we got to see in the first book surrounds Devi to a lesser extent here, but Honor’s Knight, for all purposes, should really be called Devi Morris Kicks Major Ass in Space Part 2. Once again, this is Devi’s show, and we’re all just here for the thrill and vicarious danger constantly threatening her from the first chapter until the last page. Other characters can hold their own, but none has the charisma or allure of Devi and Rupert. The bones are there (Caldswell’s past seems like a minefield of interesting), but the author has yet to create three full dimensions for Mabel/Nova/Basil. It’s refreshing to see the romance complications play out from the first book for both Devi and continuity’s sake, but they can admittedly feel like a distraction from the more important events taking place elsewhere. That said, this is not a book devoid of feels and I felt for more than just my ship by the end of the novel.
As always with books about SPAAAAAAACE, I’m all about the alien races and the tech. In the first book, we are introduced to the aeons, xith’cal, and lelgis but here the characters interact with each race in a much more meaningful (and plot-relevant) fashion. We get information about aeons and their home worlds, how the xith’cal operate, and more time with the lelgis. Not all is explained — the continued confusion around plasmex and its uses is frustrating — but I’m sold on this universe, its creatures and hyperspace that Bach has envisioned. It’s wide, it’s varied, and it’s different. It’s fun to explore, though these books lean very hard on the “shoot’em up ” rather than “explore and learn!” scale of science fiction.
Basically, this is epic epicness in SPAAAACE and if you like badass female characters who shoot first and ask later, Devi is your girl and this is your book.