I’ll admit – the cover snagged my attention for this one. The tagline alone – “Space is hard. Grab a helmet” made me think it was going to be an epic, funny space thriller. This is definitely what the book sets out to do, however, it really fails to be exciting or funny in any way.
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
The plot of this book was slow and hard to buy into. The pacing was just poor – there were really only enough plot points to fill a book half this size, making the book really drag. It just felt like it should have been a novella and not a full length book. Also, the main villains of this book were really not believable. Their entire cause was “Earth First” – focus on the problems on Earth rather than colonizing space. While this could have been an interesting set up, the execution made zero sense. Moving to space was shown to be a choice in this book, one that came with passing a series of exams and a promise that you wouldn’t come back to Earth. Why on Earth (pun intended) would anyone who is part of the “Earth First” movement ever leave Earth with a one way ticket? Why would this group not be based on Earth? Wouldn’t it be to their advantage that people are leaving Earth and therefore reducing over population? Also, why would they have to kill everyone who left Earth? Why not just take over Earth politics and reshape that planet as your own? The whole thing honestly made zero sense, and made an already bad book less enjoyable.
The possibilities of having a book set in space are endless – you can have some crazy, futuristic settings with any kind of futuristic vibe you could want. Instead, this book mostly took place on planets that were pretty much cookie cutter copies of Earth. Not a ton of time is even spent on the main spaceship (which is given virtually no description other than it’s a Honda and it’s pretty). Altogether, the setting felt squandered and was pretty disappointing. Even the settings that were heavily featured were pretty underdeveloped – there was very little description or world building.
Possibly the worst part about this book is the main character, Nax. He’s a hot shot pilot who flunked out of the academy test (his failure is never really explained, despite his apparently stellar track record before this test) and is thrust into the leadership role for this band of misfits. He rotates between being obnoxiously cocky, to repetitively insecure (seriously, he repeats the same phrases over and over), to indecisive in his love life. All around, he was just kind of a mashup of tropes, without much more depth. There was no growth for him throughout the book and most of his motivations really aren’t clear. Also, it’s clear he’s meant to be the comedic relief of this book, but there was nothing really amusing about him. The rest of the characters were no better – all one dimensional with almost no indication as to their motivations for their actions.
This book really just disappointed me – It had so much potential but really did nothing with it. It’s also a genre that hasn’t had a lot of activity in the last couple of years, so I was really looking forward to a breath of fresh air in the space. If you’re looking for a quality book set in space, check out The Martian by Andy Weir or Across the Universe by Beth Revis. 1/5.