I read this weeks ago, but the release for the latest book in the series was pushed back. Since my intention was to have them come out around the same time I pushed this review back too with the hope that I can try and get ahead and have a little break for Thanksgiving.
Title: Dark Run
Series: Keiko; Book 1
Author: Mike Brooks
Genre: Science Fiction
ROTS Setting: CU, Distant Future, FTL, Terraforming, No Aliens
Synopsis: The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune and adventurers, travelling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job. And nobody talks about their past. But when a face from Captain Ichabod Drift’s former life send them on a run to Old Earth, all the rules change. Trust will be broken, and blood will be spilled.
Recommendation: Adult, maybe late teens. Not highly recommended but still recommended.
I’m kind of at a loss with this book. On the one hand I didn’t find anything specifically wrong with the book, but on the other I didn’t specifically enjoy the book either. I’m not clamoring to read the next book, nor do I have any sort of satisfaction beyond “another book off my TBR list.”
Starting with the universe, it felt like it could be detailed but it didn’t really have a reason to be. The overall focus was very narrow so there wasn’t room or much opportunity for more world building.
The Plot was almost a classic. A group with a shady history is hired for one last job but are inevitably betrayed but also manage to escape, so they plan and execute their revenge…….I suppose I should have called spoilers….oh well. There’s nothing wrong with using classic elements, they’re classic for a reason. The problem arises if there isn’t something to make it standout from all the others that are just like it. Sadly I don’t think there is a standout element to the book.
The main character is Ichabod Drift. He’s the captain and his backstory plays a key role in how everything shakes down. I found him to be annoying and unlikeable as a person and a bit rigid as a character. He’s clearly meant to be liked, but I don’t see any reason to. (Might just be my aversion to main characters.)
Jenna McIlroy is the only other one in the group I might consider as a main character. It seemed that she got some kind of special attention the other members of the crew didn’t get. She grew up in relative privilege and in her rebellion learned to hack or splice as it’s referred to here. Eventually she ran away from home and found a place on the ship. She’s hyper-capable when it comes to computer systems but is still naive and inexperienced about the universe and how it operates. I think she has some potential but I also found it odd that she would almost be cast as a second main character.
In general I found the characters to be just a much of cliches and tropes. There wasn’t much to make them standout and the few things that was used was things like race or working for the wrong people. If you removed their job history (not skills) and skin color then the characters basically disappear. And instead of character development we mostly just get characters revealing their backstory so there’s no progression or satisfaction.
When reading it at first I almost thought it was steampunk and the more I read the more I wished I had been right. I think a steampunk setting might have put that unique edge to it that the book so desperately needs. There was also a Firefly-vibe that has been mentioned by others and while that was nice at the beginning, in the end it may have been a liability. Firefly had a feeling that they were the good guys even if they didn’t always do everything legally. There was a moral compass that they followed, which was instantly endearing. The crew in this book just didn’t have a good guy feel to them. And in the case of the captain, he’s a legit bad guy……At least in my opinion and without getting into spoilers I can’t really explain why.
In summary, the book is perfectly adequate and I have no problem seeing a lot of people really liking it. It just wasn’t for me, or wasn’t for me right now. I might read the next book eventually, but there are much higher priorities that I just have to read.