TRACER by Rob Boffard


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In his debut novel, Boffard presents a claustrophobic future where the remnants of humanity survive in a dilapidated space station and one young woman must save the station from those who want no survivors at all.

Riley Hale is an orphan who's grown up in the bowels of the station Outer Earth, living hand to mouth as a member of a ragtag band of "tracers"—couriers who use parcours to navigate the station's labyrinthine and crumbling corridors. In the cramped, resource-starved world of Outer Earth, there is still profit to be had...if you're resourceful, fast, and scrappy enough to get past vicious gangs and station security. But a job gone wrong puts Riley in the cross hairs of a driven madman who wants to destroy the station. As Riley struggles to protect her crew, her childhood friend Prakesh, and herself from Darnell's sadism and the political machinations of station authorities, she is drawn into a battle for everyone's future. Constant violence and escalating stakes keep the story moving forward at a bone-jarring pace, especially in the climax, where revelations and betrayals follow each other as quickly, and as dizzyingly, as Riley vaults down stairwells. The dynamic visuals of Riley's freerunning, as well as Outer Earth itself, would be well-served by a screen adaptation (one particular fight scene begs for cinematic special effects); in the prose, the station is frequently described but rarely clearly pictured. The camera might also do better justice to Riley's personal arc—Boffard hits all his heroine's requisite emotional notes...with a hammer (including an erotic scene that departs from the otherwise teen-friendly content).

Boffard's debut is rough around the edges but ambitious and intriguing.

Pub Date: June 28th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-316-26527-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Redhook/Orbit
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016