Starflight: Melissa Landers

I recently finished this recently-published novel, Starflight, a scifi adventure that follows the story of Solara Brooks and her enslavement. Solara is poor– an orphan with no viable prospects in the harsh world that she lives in, especially due to the felony tattoos that mark her as dangerous. An outlaw. She dreams of escaping to the outer realm, a land where no one will care about who she was or what she’s done, where she can build herself back up to be someone that she can admire.

Unfortunately, travel to the outer-realm can only be accomplished through one way for Solara: indentured servitude. She’ll work for the kindly aristocrat who takes pity on her and pays for her ticket to the outer realms. Well, this kindly aristocrat manifests themselves in the form of Doran Spaulding, billionaire corporate child heir and Solara’s tormentor since years past. Forced to hand her dignity over on a platter, Solara is whisked away on an adventure of a lifetime, faithfully accompanied by her worst nightmare.

Of course, things go horribly wrong and the two find themselves aboard the Banshee, manned by an eclectic crew and a grouchy Captain and on the run for their own reasons. Now that both Solara and Doran are being hunted down by the galaxy, they’re forced to partner up and keep an eye on each other’s backs… both from the guard hunting them down, and from their newly-formed family aboard the Banshee. 

I really enjoyed this novel because character development, of course. There’s so much character development in this story, especially that of Solara, who grows more confident as the story goes on, and Doran, who really turns a new life and begins to see Solara as a person and not the grungy street-orphan who made the mistake of excelling in her field and beating him at some school-wide competition, back when they were students. Also, I’m a sucker for hateful relationships that turn into love– I think that the whole “people having to change to see their partners in a new light” always promises a whole bevy of interesting inner-dialogue and advancement for protagonists. Starflight follows through. By the end of the book, I was really attached to the cast of this novel.

The plot also kept my attention. usually, the little blurb on the inner or outer cover of the novel spoils the whole story for you, but the summary provided didn’t ruin anything. I was still surprised by the twists and turns that Solara and Doran’s path took. You start reading, expecting one thing, and then end on a completely different plotline. There are some people who would be annoyed by this, but I really appreciate it. Guessing the way the story will turn is like trying to figure out a jigsaw puzzle.

The side-characters are given their own detailed histories, motivations, and ambitions. You’ve got prickly Cassia, the flirtatious and enigmatic Kane, Renny, a kindly kleptomaniac, and then Captain Rossi– gruff, stern, and surprisingly level-headed. The crew operates like a well-oiled machine, everything that the Banshee isn’t. Somehow, they make it work. Somehow, they worm their ways into your heart. Half of this story is that of Doran and Solara, and the other half is that of the Banshee‘s crew. Still, both stories align and the ending provides a satisfying conclusion to either half.

I’m really curious about what the next novel will include: Doran and Solara and their new relationship, of course, but perhaps they’ll touch upon Doran’s role as the pirate captain, or delve into Cassia’s war-torn homelands. Then, of course, there’s the whole issue with Gage, the supposedly dead twin of Doran Spaulding but recently discovered to be alive. All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and might be purchasing it for my own shelves. I’ll definitely be keeping up with this series and I’m really excited to see where Ms. Landers takes our cast! I can only hope that the sequel will live up to its originator.

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