Title: Zenith: The Androma Saga
Authors: Lindsay Cummings & Sasha Alsberg
Pub. Date: January 16, 2018
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.
***ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.***
Due to some kind of downloading or uploading issue, the version of Zenith I received to review early did not contain the novel in full. My original review for Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings isn’t a complete representation of the novel.
I’m going to start by saying that I’m proud of Sasha and Lindsay for writing the story they wanted to tell. I’m happy for them that they made it onto the NYT Bestseller List – I know they’ve worked hard to create this world and these characters. I’m genuinely happy for them!
Now I’m going to put a disclaimer. My thought’s on Zenith are my own, and while this might be your favorite book, it wasn’t mine, and that’s okay. We can all like different stories, and still be able to discuss them. That the great thing about YA – there are plenty of books and stories to choose from.
This review will have spoilers.
I don’t know whether its “fortunate” or “unfortunate” that the ending and the fact that it was SF were the only aspect of this book that saved it from being a total flop.
I had such high hopes for this book, and it continuously fell short. I think the plot had great potential, it just wasn’t executed correctly. I also think that the hype surrounding this book hurt as much as it helped. Because this book was hella hyped, and while hype is a good thing, it also causes heightened expectations, and in my experience, heightened expectations are rarely, if not ever met. There are very few books that have met my expectations when a book is as hyped as Zenith was.
From the weird dialogue/inner thoughts, descriptions, lack of information, and a couple of other issues, I felt completely let down. I wanted so badly to love this book, because it sounded exactly like something I would completely love.
It wasn’t, and that hurts to type.
This is going to be a rough review to write, but I want to be honest.
Now I’m going to start the spoiler section of this review.
My first complaint was that there were too many points of view, and most of them didn’t really add much to the story. I found myself not caring about Lira’s inner turmoil. I didn’t care about Valen either. I definitely didn’t care about Nor, or Klaren, and kept wishing that the story had just been told from Androma’s and Dex’s perspectives. I felt like with all the plot lines that were in this book, didn’t need to be there, they were excessive, and the book, coming to a conclusion at 534 was too long.
Now for the dialogue/inner thoughts. It wasn’t all bad, but there were some lines that just made me question why they were there. It all felt very flowery, with weird comparisons and metaphors – feeling like it belonged in a fantasy novel rather than a SF one. i.e. (paraphrasing) ‘a voice being slippery as if it were coated in oil’ or ‘a building being razor sharp and soft’. To me, neither of those images paint a very clear image.
Then there are jokes or phrases that the crew finds funny, hysterical, ‘spit-water-out-of-mouth’ shocking. I rarely found it understandable as to why these jokes got these kind of reactions.
When Androma and Dex flirt with each other, even if it’s through snide grins and hatred, it sounded like something out of a Hallmark movie. I couldn’t buy into their relationship for most of the book.
Which leads me into another point. We as the readers are left out of the loop a lot. First example I can think of – “darowak” . It’s mentioned on page 21, and it’s not explained what a “darowak” is…is it a bird, a plane? It just says it can fly. We have no idea. It’s not until page 417 that we learn that it’s a giant fast-flying bird. There is no reason that it should take almost 400 pages for the reader to know what a “darowak” is.
As for the crew. This book does a lot of telling rather than showing. We’re told Androma’s the Bloody Baroness, but we rarely ever see her switch to this other personality. When she’s Andi, she hates the killing, we see that with the tally marks, and the weird dancing with dead people, but we see the Bloody Baroness, once? twice? Breck is bullet proof, but why? How? What about her makes her so invulnerable? And Gilly. Sweet, innocent Gilly, until you put a gun in her hand. For someone who is described as a “bloodthirsty little beast, a gunner with plenty of death on her hands” we rarely see that. She breaks out into tears at the first sign of trouble. Lira. I really didn’t care about her inner problems, her inner turmoil, and would have been okay with seeing her solely from Androma’s point of view. Other than being a great pilot, I didn’t really understand her being there.
I understand wanting to weave in the past with the present, as events evoke memories – it makes for a good story, but I don’t want to be nearing the end of the story, and only just learning about character background. In Valen’s case, I get it. It’s the big surprise twist at the end, the reader isn’t supposed to know until it’s revealed.
I will say, starting at Chapter 80, was when I felt immersed in the story, with the inklings of desire to want to know what will happen in book 2. I enjoyed the end of the book, the shock factor, the twist with Valen, and then Andi’s crew falling under Nor’s control, that had me drawn into the story. But only being fully invested in 18 chapters out of 98 isn’t exactly stellar.
For me, this book left so much to be desired. I found it rather tedious to get through. I feel like it could have been 200 pages shorter and a much more compelling novel. I’m sad that I didn’t love this book like I anticipated I would. It’s been on my radar since Sasha and Lindsay first announced that they were working on a SF novel set in space. I was super eager to read it, and when I was approved to read an eARC I felt severely let down. I felt like half the book was missing. Turns out the file I was sent, from a reputable source, only contained the story up to Chapter 41. (I mention this briefly at the start of this post). I felt like I had read a different book than everyone else.
I wish my review for this book could have been more positive, but I often found myself forcing my eyes to stay focused on the page, forcing myself to finish the book. I didn’t want to DNF, I wanted to give the book a fair shot.
I think, based on the ending alone, I’d be interested in seeing how it all concludes in book 2. Towards the end it finally felt like Sasha and Lindsay found a sweet spot with their writing.