Friday, September 15, 2017

Michelle Diener - Dark Horse

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she's made a powerful ally--a fellow prisoner with whom she's formed a strong bond. Sazo's an artificial intelligence. He's saved her from captivity and torture, but he's also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.
Captain Dav Jallan doesn't know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he's not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.
She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5's owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn't the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

Comment: Another book I got after reading very positive reviews and opinions in different places. Since I like the genre as well, it was no task to simply add it, especially when the blurb seemed intriguing as well.

In this book we have Rose's story, she was kidnapped from Earth along with a sample of different animals to be studied in an alien ship. As one would expect, the alien technology is far more advanced than the human one, so Rosie is taken to a completely different galaxy and wouldn't, probably, ever return home. While in the alien ship, Rosie becomes friends with a sort of AI being, the apparent controller of the ship. Together they can overcome the crew and eventually they release the animals while waiting for another ship to rescue Rose.
The rescuers are lead by captain Dav Jallan of the race Grih, someone pretty much alike with a Tolkien Elf, which makes Rosie feel more at ease. Almost everyone in the new ship seems friendly despite the weird obsession with her silly singing but Rosie realizes there are secrets she must keep if she wants to ensure her survival...

I had a great time reading this book. The world building and the imagination of the author were quite amazing and I could see a scenario in my head. I think the alien planets and identities, however, were not explored well and part of the plot did feel "confined" but hopefully the next books might mention that and develop more ideas.

At first, the story was a bit weird but as every page was turned, I felt more and more confident knowing those characters and imagining a human dealing with them and different expectations. Unlike some sci-fi or fantasy stories, this is not a world where humans have evolved, this is not a story set in the distant future. Rosie is kidnapped but thankfully, this is not one of those badly done erotica stories either. I think the author managed to imply seriousness and structure so for a first attempt, I liked her "voice".

The plot revolves mostly around a simple conflict that, closer to the end of the book, seems to escalate to a potentially big problem. To be honest, i found this plot decision to be unnecessary, the world was already quite rich, I thought there so many things to be explored that it was pointless, even in terms of plot moves, but I suppose it was to get the next book ready.

There is also a romance thread between Rosie and captain Dav. I'm glad this was something slowly developing but at the same time, I kind of wanted a bit more certainty in their feelings. It was not the decision itself, just the way they discussed it was mostly subtle but considering the time frame (if I read right, around one week?), it's not to admire they weren't passionately in love by the end of the book but were interested and devoted to one another enough to try it.

Thinking about the whole book, I definitely liked it a lot but some sections of the story didn't feel as fluid and they felt a bit out of place and the end wasn't as romantic or well done as I hoped for. Still, this very innovative, I liked Rose and Dav and I'm now going to get the others to see exactly how everything is linked between the different stories even more so when we know each book has a different main couple. I confess I have good hopes to be wowed until the end.
Grade: 8/10

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