Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Format Read: ARC
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 16th 2018
Book Depository | Buy from publisher
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.
Being totally upfront, I never picked up Zenith when part one was first published independently — but after hearing how quickly it became a New York Times Best Seller, my interest was peaked and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I’ve watched Sasha’s BookTube videos, and do enjoy them, so was happy to see her dream of becoming a published author realised through her debut novel with co-author Lindsay Cummings.
Zenith definitely has a Star Wars feel to it. It’s about a rag-tag girl gang aboard the Marauder ship, who are led by a fierce captain called Androma Racella. Her friends know her as Andi, but the rest of the galaxy calls her…The Bloody Baroness. They receive a mission from a powerful man from Androma’s past, and go on a quest to rescue his kidnapped son.
I went into this book having read some of the debate around the novel, but I did manage to keep an open mind while reading. Here are a few things I liked and disliked about Zenith:
What I liked
- I enjoyed the overall premise of the novel — following a rag-tag girl gang was fun, and it was wonderful to see how female relationship was portrayed between the four girls in the crew. They all had one another’s backs when trouble arose, and I really liked their banter
- SPAAAAACE. It’s really made a come back these past few years, and I’m totally for it
- I like the world building of Xen Ptera and Adhira. These two places gave off the most Star Warsy vibes throughout the entire book. I would definitely want to visit Adhira if it was a real place
What I disliked / all the questions I had while reading
- The novel was entirely WAY TOO LONG. I’ve heard the rumours about who the editor is (I’m not going to go into this), and this book definitely needs a lot of tightening up. At over 500 pages, barely anything happens. It’s a lot of character building, walking around, hearing about history…which 75% of the time was unnecessary. There were instances at the beginning of the book where you’re reading from one character POV, but it suddenly switches to the perspective or another. I really hope the final version has fixed up these errors
- The amount of character POVs did not help with the length of the novel. We read from around six POVs, and the majority of it was unnecessary and added nothing to the overarching story. What was the point of Lira and Dex’s POVs aside from giving them more page time?
- The world building for the wider galaxy / systems are a bit lacking, especially about the Olen system. I have a lot of questions about why this system is considered evil, particularly the planet of Xen Ptera — and how many planets are even in this system? Xen Ptera is described as a planet in famine following the war…could they not trade with other planets in the system? The Unified Systems never dictated that they can’t trade with others to survive. Doesn’t really put their leader in a great light if trading was always available and she was too naive to do so, letting her people starve to death instead
- On that point…what even triggered this great war that all the characters continuously refers to? It seems like it just happened out of no where
- The Bloody Baroness is bloody…weak? Throughout the book, Androma is described as this fearful figure who takes no mercy. But that’s the thing, while it’s all we ever hear, nothing really points to how she became this elusive and feared figure, or how she earned her name. We are just told that she’s feared by everyone without much to back it up. And to make her even weaker? Androma marks her swords with every life she takes, and dances with the deceased in her head to remember them by. You can’t have one or the other — I really doubt someone as feared as a ‘Bloody Baroness’ can truly have such a soft heart
Look, I get where the overarching story is heading in this saga, and I enjoyed the way different storylines converged. Ultimately, I think a lot of the issues with Zenith really stems back to the editing process. It feels chunky and reads more like a first draft of the book rather than a tightened final version. I got halfway through and had to force myself to finish it, just to find out how it all ends. I never felt like anyone was really in any danger, which meant I wasn’t all that invested in any of the characters.
There were definitely parts I really enjoyed, and the space element was super fun! However, I left the story with more questions than not, which is never a great sign. Will I continue on with the series? I’m leaning towards no.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen Australia for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) is out on 16 January 2018.