A penniless girl and a wealthy boy, enemies, are stuck together on an outer-space journey.
Solara has no family, no connections, and knuckle tattoos advertising her criminal record. She wants to turn her mechanical skills into a vehicle for self-sufficient life in the outer realm, but that’s far from Earth, so she needs someone to hire her for the trip and pay her passage. Enter Doran, her high school nemesis, “heir to the galaxy’s largest fuel corporation [and] first-string varsity football star.” Glaringly visible genre tropes include the gruff, motley spaceship crew that becomes family; the pirates and purposely brain-damaged torturers in pursuit; the alternating-between-protagonists third-person narration; and the enmity between Solara and Doran that will obviously turn to lust and love. Despite a far-future time frame and outer-space setting, Landers’ worldbuilding leans on such earthly details as rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, milled cider, funnel cake, and a barn dance with fiddles (on a distant planet). There are no nonhumans or extraterrestrials, and there is little science or technology beyond the outer-space premise. The protagonists are white; their two brown-skinned shipmates (whose blond “dreadlocks” are mentioned again and again) are stereotypically angry. For multiple narrators, creativity, and suspense in outer space, see Beth Revis’ Across the Universe series and Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s Starbound series instead.
The less-imaginative end of outer-space adventure romance. (Science fiction/romance. 12-16)