I’m all for the fun action movie, especially when it’s science fiction, but I generally look for more when I read. This book had me worried because it starts in the middle of the action and at a mad run, but I should have had more faith. Yes, there’s action a plenty, but there’s also strong characters and people discovering who they really are.
The story focuses around Aly, who is an arms smuggler not out of ambition but rather from a lack of choices. Her history and her brother drove her down this path, but she’s not what most people would expect of ex-Corp military personnel. She’s faced with having to accept the corruption of her path or move beyond it, and each time something goes too far, she makes an active choice.
I like how she is developing from a “now” person into a “What do I want to be” kind of person. Sure, her choices are driven by her need to save her brother at first, but they become more almost without her consent, or rather, the consequences of the choices are outside of what she reasonably expected. Still, she could have given up at any point, and she could have made the final step of losing her sense of morality. Her options, and her existence, would have been much easier if she had.
Aly never takes the easy path, and trust isn’t something she’s willing to risk, but she makes connections with people almost against her will, and often against what appears to be her self-interest. She’s complex, haunted, and driven, nor is she the only character with that deep of a story. The whole crew of the transport ship that simultaneously rescues and kidnaps Aly in the beginning is much the same, each with a darkness they can’t forget but a determination to do something to make up for that past. There’s an element of revenge, but beyond Aly, they are mostly forward-looking rather than after blood.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this story, and despite what I said at the beginning, the things that stuck with me were almost entirely characters. People looking for a pure adrenalin rush might just find themselves pulled into a moving story of how Aly learns she has more than just her brother to count on, and there’s much more to live for than the value of throwing her life away on revenge.
It certainly offers hopes for the fun things to be found in the rest of the Spectras Arise Trilogy.