ZENITH (Amazon) opens on Androma Racella, aka Andy, aka The Bloody Baroness, flying free. She and her all-female crew are between jobs when they’re intercepted by Andy’s old flame, Dextro. Dex is a bounty hunter and Guardian (of the Galaxy… don’t sue me Marvel) who is working for General Cortas. Cortas is Andy’s old boss and the father of her best friend, whose death she feels responsible for.
General Cortas has a job for Andy–if she can rescue his son Valen from a planetary prison, she’ll be a rich woman. The only hitch is that Andy has to work with Dex. The last time she was alone in a room with Dex, she stabbed him in the heart, and not in a metaphorical way. It was a very literal stabbing for a very real betrayal.
So now Andy has to work with a man she hates, to return the son of a man she despises. At least she’s got her crew at her back, who will support her through anything.
I don’t want to give away too many things, but I will note here that ZENITH (Book #1 of The Androma Saga) was published by HarlequinTeen. I mention this only because I feel like a huge part of enjoying a book can be expectations. Sometimes it’s fun to go in blind, but other times it helps to have some context. While it’s set in a distant galaxy, this is not a book interested in space itself. It’s interested in all of the potential romance of space. The technical components are less important here than the author’s ability to create new races, technologies and settings out of whole cloth.
The cloth the authors have chosen tends towards cliche. There’s a lot of sparkling and glowing going on. It’s kind of fun to be in a setting where everything is pristine and amazing (and a lot of other adjectives). I think there’s a real audience for fairy-tale settings, even in space.
Alsberg and Cummings have tried to flesh out fairly stock characters with varying amounts of success. Their characterization tends towards the school of thought that all characters should be AWESOME, but even in the extremes they found some nuance. I liked Andy’s pilot, Lira, quite a bit, and Andy herself has believable motivations. Dex’s character never deepens into something more substantial than “generic love interest” which is unfortunate, because it makes the relationship a little less exciting than it might otherwise be.
At the beginning of Zenith you can feel the dual-authors in the repetition at the beginning of each chapter, but that disappears as the book moves forward. While the main plot feels fairly standard, the subplot is a lot darker and more surprising than the main one, and thus more interesting. Because it’s just a subplot though, there are a lot of pages to get through to get to the more interesting, and slightly more unexpected, parts of the story.
ZENITH has all of the trappings of a fun romp through space, and while it hits some of its marks, its characters are a little too generic to make it feel special.
- Recommended Age: 13+
- Language: Made-up swearing
- Violence: Killing. Some torture. Fairly bloodless.
- Sex: Mentioned and recalled, although no real details.