This sequel to The Star Host (2016) brings a fraught romantic pairing into constant deadly space peril.
Since escaping the planet Erden on the Star Stream at the end of the previous book, Ren’s star-host magic has been spiraling out of control. His usually brown eyes frequently gleam with the blue of his “technopath” power, as he finds himself controlling the ship by accident in his nightmares. His slow-burn relationship with Asher is falling apart; how can he trust a boyfriend who has such loyalty to the star host–hating Phoenix Corps? The crew of the Star Stream attempts to stabilize Ren by bringing him to his home planet, but that only reveals deadly plots that play out against a backdrop of nameless, primitive villages. While traveling with a band of revolutionaries, Asher and Ren fight and then reconcile time and time again. The Montague/Capulet love affair between two white young men—one a planet-born star host, the other a born-and-bred spacer and soldier—doesn’t rescue this effort from dialogue that makes little contextual sense or planets that feel like a movie-studio backlot. Still, the pacing is solid enough to keep readers entertained while they wait for some good Firefly fan fiction.
Queer science-fiction romance for teens is badly needed, but readers needn’t settle for thinly constructed worlds, flat characters, and tepid prose. Try Alexandra Duncan’s Sound (2015) instead. (Science fiction. 12-14)