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Buy The StarHawk Chronicles: https://amzn.to/2N7btNY
Jesse Forster, also know as Captain Kid, is a bounty hunter. It’s a regulated industry with a mission to help police the vastness of space. Capturing or killing bounties is a dangerous business and requires a crew. Jesse assembles a team of family and friends to crew the Starhawk and follow in his father’s footsteps.
All bounties are not the same. The Starhawk crew gets assigned the dubious task of bringing in the Nexus gang. Jesse and the team must overcome their fear of confronting the gang, for the second time, while avoiding traps designed to kill them.
Why did I choose this book?
I bought this book way back in February 2018. I believe I ran across author Joseph J. Madden on twitter and agreed to review The Starhawk Chronicles. Fast forward over a year, and I finally read it. I’m typically not a fan of the bounty hunter trope in Sci-Fi which is why I kept skipping over this one in my library. I think the other reason is that the cover gives me major Star Wars vibes, and in 2018, I had my fill of Star Wars
If you follow my reviews, you know when I put a book off, I usually regret it. The Starhawk Chronicles is no exception. I probably read 10 terrible books while this gem was patiently waiting to be noticed. I like to reflect on what appealed to me or why I bought a book for the author to glean some information on my thought process. I don’t know if it will apply to anyone else, but some info is better than none. On to the review.
Story – 4 stars
The story starts exactly how I like, with action. Chapter one we learn about Jesse and the crews’ job catching bad people. Madden uses the story to teach us which person in the crew has which role and their personalities. One chapter the perfect time to get us acquainted with the heroes, and we weren’t subjected to a prologue. Chapter two is also a setup chapter, although it’s for the antagonist of the book, the Nexus Gang.
For 206 pages, Madden weaved sophisticated emotions in a fairly standard story arc. The Nexus gang and Jesse’s gang have history, and neither side escaped without causing severe permanent damage to each other. In the vain of keeping this a spoiler-free review, the two groups have good reason to hate and fear each other.
Although I was able to predict much of this story arc, how it unfolded was very entertaining and unexpected. The introduction of the Kayla character added an external element that kept the story fresh and exciting. It also gave the author a convenient way to explore Jessie’s backstory and his losses at the hands of the Nexus gang.
The story was excellent and well written. The Starhawk Chronicles is the first book in the series, but it also is a complete story.
Characters – 4 stars
The characters are what make The Starhawk Chronicles a good book. Jesse Forster is the primary protagonist of the story. The antagonist of the novel is the Nexus gang leader Rahk Garrakis.
Supporting Jesse is his brother Podo Forster, Kym Tirannis, Bokschh, Morogo, K’Tran Pasker, and an AI flight disc robot names Sneaker. Sneaker reminds me of the aliens from the movie “Batteries Not Included.” We get just enough backstory on the crew to give them the motivation to support Jesse. There is plenty to explore with these characters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them get their own books.
Rounding out the good people is Kayla Karson. Kayla is a bounty hunter that also wants to catch the Nexus gang. She has an interesting and complicated origin story that Madden could spend much more time on.
The addition of Kayla added the perfect pressure to the team. Who is she? Is she here to help? Is she telling the truth? Kayla also puts emotional pressure on Jesse. It isn’t a love triangle per se, but it does push Jesse out of his comfort zone and test his emotional readiness
The antagonist team is not as fleshed out, and I’m glad. Nothing worse than an author spending a bunch of pages giving us the life story of a tertiary character. The gang leaders Khan and Rahk Garrakis are given a backstory and a history with Jesse, which explains their motivation.
There were just enough characters in The Starhawk Chronicles to keep the book entertaining without having to try and remember who is who. My only critique of the characters was Khan and Rahk’s name. I frequently mixed up which character was in which scene and had to re-read the page to make sure I understood which brother was in focus.
Pace – 4.5 stars
The pace of The Starhawk Chronicles is excellent. As previously mentioned, the book opens up with action and keeps the reader interested all the way to through.
At a little over 200 pages, author Joseph J Madden must have leveraged the delete key judiciously because I didn’t skip a single page. In almost every book I read, there is excessive dialog or explanation, which causes me to flip. Not The Starhawk Chronicles. I read this book fast. I’d much rather have a 200-page gem than a 400 page stone in which I skip 200 pages of useless dialog.
Originality – 3 stars
This is an original story, but it is a familiar Science Fiction trope. At times it feels like I could have swapped out Jesse’s name with Han Solo or swapped Starhawk for Serenity. The good news is that it was different enough not to be distracting. The Starhawk Chronicles is the second book I’ve read this year to utilize the bounty hunter slash follow in your father’s footsteps trope. The other book is called Rogue Starship.
Originality is one of the toughest categories to score high in. It’s far less subjective. A book has to be blazing a trail through science fiction to get anywhere near a five. An original story using familiar tropes is a solid three.
Technology – 3 stars
The Starhawk Chronicles is not a techie science fiction book. Mainly, this book operates in the future and in space and treats technology as a commodity. Technology is treated like the reader is in the same year and subject to the same technology as the Starhawk crew. For example, if you were putting something in the microwave, you wouldn’t stop and explain to the reader how the microwave worked. This story takes a similar approach.
The good news is there were no apparent missteps with technology. Nothing seemed unreasonable. There was no hand waving that I could detect. The word quantum doesn’t appear a single time. The application of technology in this book reminds me of Artemis by Andy Weir. I like hard Sci-Fi, but sometimes I just want to read a story set in space.
I liked The Starhawk Chronicles by Joseph J. Madden very much. It was expertly written and a pleasure to read. At 200ish pages, I knocked it out in a couple days, and I was sad when it was over. Sometimes the individual categories of a review don’t do the book justice.
If you are looking for hard science fiction or for a new style Dyson sphere to be unveiled, this is not the book for you. There are space battles, ground battles, explosions, and action. There are complicated emotional stakes that will envoke similar reactions in the reader. There were times when I was sad, and times when I was mad.
Overall this is a good book, and I recommend you buy it and give it a try.
You can find more books by Joseph J. Madden here: https://amzn.to/2Wz0XSW
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