Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

 

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Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader. But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder‘s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

3.5 Stars

Okay so this will probably be a very unpopular opinion but I didn’t hate this book. In fact I rather enjoyed Zenith.

Zenith isn’t the best Sci-Fi novel on the market and it’s not a perfect debut. The thing is though – is there ever such a thing as a perfect debut? A debut is an authors breakout into the world, the writing scene. It is an authors very first published book. Of course it’s not going to be 110% perfect! It takes practice and experience to perfect your writing style and find your own unique voice so I don’t believe Zenith deserves the amount of negative criticism and backlash it has received.

That being said, Zenith isn’t without its flaws. It is quiet a lengthy book for a debut at over five hundred pages. Not that I have an issue with long books, the opposite in fact, but the pacing is where Zenith fell a little short. In some parts of the book, especially the beginning it’s fast paced, full of action and bad-assery. This is when Zenith is at its best. I found the pages flew by when the Marauder’s all girl crew were racing across the universe or provoking brawls. At other times the action slowed down giving way to the mundane and making it feel like more of a chore to get through.

BUT, at the end of the day Zenith is a lot of fun. Zenith’s narrative has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see how the series grows and improves.

Now that we’ve touched on the flaws let’s get into what I absolutely loved about Zenith and that was it’s cast of characters. The Marauder’s are an all-girl crew of mercenaries and are such bad asses. Think space pirates or the Guardians of the Galaxy. The crew have such a lively dynamic – their banter, their bickering and their undying devotion to each other kept me on my toes. This is a close knit group of ladies that support each other like any other family. They respect and nurture each other and I loved seeing them get protective of their captain when a certain bounty hunter arrives in the scene.

Each character was so different from the next and what I loved about Zenith was that I could hear their own distinctive voices as I read. Androma, Lira, Breck and Gilly aren’t bland characters. Yes, I can see why people say Androma is similar to famous characters such as Celaena Sardothien but that was part of the reason why I loved her. The idea of a Celaena Sardothien type in space was just too promising for me to pass up. Androma ‘Andi’ Racella is a layered character with a troubling past and a vulnerable side which I loved reading about.

I also loved Zenith’s plot. Yes there were a lot of POV chapters, some that probably could have been cut. I will admit that there were some POV’s that I really didn’t care about until their significance came into play at the end. POVs aside though, guys – space pirates! Um, yes please! And feminist girl space pirates at that! I loved the crews journey and the shenanigans that their impossible mission brought to the table. Space chases, bar fights, prison breakouts and explosive action are just some of Zenith’s thrilling plot points. Some might say Zenith was predictable but I say otherwise. There were some twists that I guessed but I was almost knocked out of my seat by others. I was totally here for the characters interactions and reactions to each situation and hurdle they met as they made their way across the galaxy.

I couldn’t possibly mention plot without talking about the world building… or lack thereof.  Zenith’s world building could have been a lot better. One mistake Sasha and Lindsay made was the amount of info dumping and flashbacks strewn across the POV chapters. Most of you will know that I’m all about the world building. I love to learn about the rules and limitations but only when done right. Zenith is guilty of a little too much telling and not enough showing. I never quiet got the gist of the Mirabel Galaxy and especially the politics of said galaxy. I feel Zenith had an incredible world (and map!) but Sasha and Lindsay didn’t really do Mirabel justice in explaining how it all worked to their readers. However, world building is defiantly something that will improve with each novel. Don’t even get me started on some of our old favorites, not to mention a few other debuts. Like I said before – writers don’t start out perfect. With each installment published we as readers get to experience the author grow and develop into a seasoned writer.

So, is Zenith a high-concept, thought provoking, deep and complex novel? No. But it is a light hearted and enjoyable Sci-Fi novel for people who don’t always reach for the genre. POV chapters, pacing and world building aside, Zenith’s memorable characters really keep you hooked and keep the pages turning. Take this book, not as it perhaps tries to be but as a fun, guilty pleasure to be read with an open mind. If you are fans of Sarah. J Maas and the Six of Crows series or even films like Guardians of the Galaxy you’ll have a lot of fun with Zenith. There is so much potential and I’m looking forward to see how Zenith’s sequel Nexus will evolve.

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