Review: Starbreaker – Amanda Bouchet
by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Endeavor #2
Also in this series: Nightchaser
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
THEY NEVER WANTED TO BE HEROES
Captain Tess Bailey and Shade Ganavan are still the galaxy's Most Wanted, and with revolution in the wind and the universe on the brink of catastrophic war, the situation couldn't be more desperate. Despite the Dark Watch scouring the known sectors for them, rebel leaders have handed the crew of the Endeavor a delicate and dangerous mission: break into Starbase 12 and free renowned scientist Reena Ahern. She's the only one who stands a chance of tipping the odds in their favor for the first time in decades.
BUT PULLING OFF THE IMPOSSIBLE IS WHAT THEY DO BEST
The clock is ticking. But as their attraction builds and secrets are revealed, Tess and Shade must decide if they trust each other enough to execute this impossible prison break. They could change the course of history, but they'll be risking everything... They'll just have to tackle one crisis at a time.
I have to get this off my chest, but I have no idea what’s up with that cover, which I think is a definite step back from the first book. Other than that, though, essentially all of my criticisms from the first book were addressed, leaving a delightfully fun, fast-paced space romp. This is the second book in the series and I wouldn’t recommend reading this book without reading the first.
“Tess Bailey: pirate. Sailing the galactic seas, stealing shit, and pissing off the authorities.”
This book picks up where the first book left off. After delivering the serum, Tess and crew are immediately assigned a new mission – rescuing a scientist from the heart of the Overseer’s empire. It’s a big jump up from their usual Robin Hood-esque pilfering of food and other cargo, but luckily Tess has help from an unexpected – if not very forthcoming – source. Trust is a precious commodity, though, and Tess is still working through whether she can trust Shade, let alone the man who abandoned her as a child. Things are more dire than they seem, though, and the fate of the universe may hang on Tess and her crew.
“Tess had been my first choice, but I wasn’t hers—at least not yet.”
The Tess in this book is, essentially, the same Tess from the first book, if a little less naive. She’s still an interesting mix of strong and vulnerable, and still willing to throw herself into danger in hopes of making the universe a better place. Shade, on the other hand, is in a state of flux. Shade needs Tess more than she needs him – Tess has her spaceship, her crew, and her identity as a rebel, while Shade has given up everything in his life for her. His past as a bounty hunter – chasing down rebels just like Tess and her crew – casts a pall over their relationship, and while she may be willing to give him a second chance, he’s acutely aware that he needs to earn her trust back. Despite that, they still have the same great chemistry and hilarious banter from the first book.
“He’s a rebel space cat. Explosions will happen.”
I had several criticism about first book that I wrote off as a bad case of first-book-in-a-series-itis, and, for the most part, that seems to have been the case. My big pet peeve – the POV issue – was the item I was most relieved about, as Tess and Shade both have first-person POVs. There’s also a lot more action, and, in fact, besides a minor interlude at a resort, the book is jam-packed with heists (or planning them), firefights, and narrow escapes. There’s also a lot more time spent with the crew, both new and old characters, including my personal favorite, Bonk, the rebel space cat. There’s a good chunk of time spent on Tess and Jax’s relationship, as well as developing the relationship between Jax and Fiona, and introducing Merrick and Sanaa.
“Faith—throughout the eons—is believing without proof. I’d rather have certain beliefs to comfort me when things seem too dark than nothing at all to brighten the horizon.”
I was a bit bemused at the last book’s entry into philosophy – the Overseer is extremely against the arts, in case you’ve forgotten – and this book provided a new discussion point courtesy of a trip to the main temple of the Sky Mother, the dominant religion of the galaxy. Tess is agnostic, while Shade is a believer, and of course they end up discussing his faith and Tess’s lack of it. It’s not terrible, but I do find these sections odd and a bit out of place. The ending, also, was a bit of a firecracker, and while I felt like the rest of the book’s twists were foreshadowed well, the one at the end had me scratching my head.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and I’m very interested to know what happens next for Tess and Shade!