So I’m a bit conflicted with this book as I really enjoyed it. It was well written in a style that focused on the the characters more than the tech and it really did feel like I was reading an episode of some SciFi TV show. So good job there. There was a paragraph at the start however the was throwing me off, but it seems she just ditched that style right then and just went into good writing.
Let’s start with the characters. I liked the characters and I didn’t hate any of them other than the bad guys, but they were meant to be hated.
Alisa, I assume, is white and I forget if she gets any more characterization than “is female”. So I kind of had the image of her as Alisa from Phantasy Star 4 in my mind. She’s tough and can get herself out of situations and because she really isn’t described I can’t judge one way or another how the author sees her. She hates to be helpless but more on this later.
Mica has short “tousled hair” and past that I don’t think she gets any more of a description. I chose to view her as black because why not? The only other Mica/h I know was black and the book didn’t give me descriptors so going with that.
I outline this because the next characters get into some maybe racist stereotyping.
Leonidas the cyborg. He’s outright stated to be black haired and blue eyed, jaw that needs shaving. It’s implied that he’s white? He’s the silent stoic type Imperial soldier that’s loyal and won’t rape anyone. He’s a good guy.
Alejandro Dominguez “He was a handsome man with bronze skin, his hair more gray than black, and she judged him in his early fifties.” He’s an Imperial doctor turned into some kind of religious person. Hates killing people and all that, but the book implies he might want to bring back the Empire.
Yumi Moon, yes that’s her name, “She looked to be a few years younger than Alisa, in her late twenties perhaps, though her smooth, bronze skin made it hard to pin down.” She’s obviously Asian with both her name, the fact that she has black hair aaaand the fact that Alisa can’t tell how old she is. Her hair is into two long braids and she comes off as a hippy or… as a drug pedaling mystical Asian trope. No she literally has drugs in her trunk and many times is sitting in positions doing breathing exercises. She also has chickens. So she has the Japanese and Korean name with the Chinese stereotyping going on. Asians. All the same. Amirite?
Tommy Beck, just goes by Beck. “The other applicant was a stocky, brown-skinned man with a wild tuft of blond hair that she assumed was dyed or otherwise modded.”
Obviously black, he’s the security, slash somewhat mechanic that he can fix stuff, slash cook. Not chef… cook. They also have a whole scene with him fighting Draper to prove he’s not a rapist versus Draper who is the total MRA rapist. There is also a scene where they plan showing his “tits” to a character against his will. It never happens, but it’s talked about. Not sure if this fits really into stereotyping past the fact he’s military, he’s the big buff black guy that can beat people up, and that he’s the cook for the whole ship.
Now that that’s taken care of let’s get into what I don’t like about the book.
Let me start by saying she says she draws inspiration from Firefly. That should set off a flag. I hear Joss Whedon is good at this kind of the follow misogyny too.
Leonidas on many occasions, orders Alisa around and she comments on this however she doesn’t tell him to stop nor show any sign of defiance against it.
The author says that Alisa gets “lippy”. Not defiant. “Lippy”. This really feels that women once again, shouldn’t be taken seriously and that their acts of sarcasm in defiance and stuff is just them making noise.
Let’s add in the scene where the author sets it up that Alisa HATES to be helpless but “Oh hey guess what 😀!” So yeah when Malik shows up (who also has black hair), she’s rendered into a vulnerable crying pile of helplessness that needs Leonidas to come and get her out of it. It’s like the author was going “I’m not sexist BUT..” and plop. Whole misogynistic scene.
Also here there are a lot of times she gets into trouble, and she does get herself out by herself, but there is something that always happens that she needs a man to finish up with. There not really anything she does fully by herself. So on some points it feels cool that she doesn’t fully need to rely on a man, but at another time I wish she’d do the whole thing herself.
And the big one that’s a trigger warning. The way we tell good guys from bad guys is the fact the bad guys want to rape all the women and the good guys don’t so much as glance at her boobs. I am serious. It’s stated that Leonidas doesn’t look at her boobs, but at her uniform. Malik has doesn’t even conceive of rape but he’s evil because he leaves Bruiser to rape Alisa. Also Malik is a sadist.
The good points of this are that I was really invested in the characters and I do want to read more of the universe to see what happens next, but I am so hoping she gets better at this. The “woman in sexual peril” however I hope isn’t an ongoing thing in the next book because that’s cheap, overused and really fucking gross.