Zara Cole is on the run.
A distant-future mobster named Torian Deluca is out to find her after she accidentally/on purpose robbed his daughter. A master thief who has lived for years in the Lower Eight of New Detroit, Zara realizes that if Deluca catches up to her, he might kill her. Faking a violent fit, Zara gets herself checked into a youth-detention facility to stay out of his reach. While she’s incarcerated, the story takes a very wide turn when Zara is mysteriously selected to join the Honors space program, a scientific and cultural exchange program between the extraterrestrial Leviathan and humans. Now aboard a Leviathan living ship named Nadim, Zara finds herself communicating with it. She also begins to suspect that there is something sinister about the entire Honors program. Zara’s snarky first-person account of her troubled childhood and overnight transition to astronaut keeps the story interesting at times. However, the story is undermined by the perpetuation of common racial and ethnic stereotypes in this futuristic world. Zara, the young, black female protagonist from New Detroit, is a criminal. Deluca is a stereotypical Italian bad guy, and a Chinese Honor participant is described as having “a degree in something complicated.” The sentient ships that display emotion fall short in execution and don’t give the plot the range it needs.
An ambitious premise that is amiable but not believable. (Science fiction. 14-adult)