This book took me much longer to read than I anticipated. It’s only 289 pages, and I expected a political drama set in space to move much quicker than it did. Ultimately, though the characters and stories were interesting enough, I found the book to be a bit… predictable.
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
This is another instance where, perhaps, I am not the intended audience for this book. There are roughly about 15 named characters, and only two of them are female. Fine. We’re in the super hardened world of Lunar mining, it’s lonely, dangerous, and thankless work. I suppose there may be fewer women interested in the career than men.
Even in 2072.
Dechert, the commander of the Serenity-1 Helium-3 mining station, is the main character. He’s a former soldier trying to escape his war-torn past by living out the rest of his days as far from Earth as he can. He has a small, but extremely skilled team of 5 people, only one of which is female.
Initially, I was willing to overlook this because it seemed that Lane was a badass. She’s the security officer for the station, and takes no bullshit, even when confronted with their young communications officer’s shameless and cringey flirtations.
Side note: despite the cringe factor, Qaurles was my favorite character.
But, what really killed it for me was Dechert’s description of her. She is immediately described in terms of her femininity (even though she’s definitely not girly) in comparison with all the men on the station. Subtle curves, soft skin, et cetera, et cetera. Like, I get it. She’s a woman and no one else there is. Also, Dechert describes her as if he as some sort of romantic interest in her, and yet that is never once hinted at nor suggested. He never treats her with anything but respect, despite the tone of his internal monologue.
It’s perplexing. Meanwhile, everyone but the token Person of Color hardly gets described at all beyond basic body type.
As a woman reading Speculative Fiction, I’m pretty accustomed to a male dominated view in narratives, even from female characters. I initially overlooked this in hopes that Gunpowder Moon would wow me in some other regard.
Unfortunately, though it was an okay read, nothing really surprised nor impressed me. I liked the premise: The first murder on the moon leads to impending war between rival nations, and the mining commander has to stop the powers that be before he and his team are caught in the crossfire.
Awesome! Sign me up.
Except it was a lot of talking interrupted by jarring flashbacks that were meant to develop Dechert and kind of did? But mostly just confused me because they didn’t seem super relevant to what was happening in the current timeline.
It’s not that I disliked the flashbacks necessarily. They were well written enough, but it was just more talking. A lot of talking about who died during what part of the war and how messed up Dechert is over it, despite never showing any emotion.
Lane acted as Dechert’s sounding board, his second in command. He shared everything with her, and yet the only thing he really asked of her beyond the expectations of her job was to contact her ex-boyfriend back on Earth to get the dirt on the political situation.
So, literally, the only impact she had in the first half of the book was because of who she slept with before coming to the moon. Really?
Anyway, one of Dechert’s miners is killed, shit gets crazy and out of control quickly. And basically, he fails. The only reason anyone gets out alive?
You guessed it: Lane.
She rallies the mining station and pulls some crazy MacGyver thinking to save them all. And it all happens OFF SCREEN!
What? How? Why?
I mean, Dechert did use prototypical jump jets to launch a dude out into space, which was pretty cool, and the tension of those last ten pages or so before he finds out if anyone lives is intense. Hands down they were the best parts of the book.
Unfortunately there’s another ten-fifteen pages of wrap up. Which I didn’t dislike, but it slowed everything back down to the same plodding pace of the rest of the book.
Okay. I feel bad. I make this book sound bad. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think it’s not for me. It’s a perfectly all right book. The setting was fleshed out and very interesting, I liked all the characters, especially Quarles, Lane, and Vernon. It was just a bit predictable, in both plot and narrative.
If you’ve read my reviews for very long you’ll know I hate giving out 3 stars or less. It pains me. As a writer, seeing a negative review of an author’s work is heartbreaking. But, I also have to be honest. David Pedreira is a good writer. His prose is crisp, clear, and unaffected. I like that. He communicated the hard science and military lingo in a way I could understand, which I greatly appreciated. Despite my commentary above, I did not dislike this book nor did I find it unpleasant to read.
I just had a few problems with it.
However, if you enjoy Military Science Fiction with strong male leads, this would probably be a good book for you.
I’m slowly making my way through Quietus by Tristan Palmgren. It’s a big book so it may be awhile before I finish it. Hopefully I can get it or Cold Days done sometime next week so I can post another book review.
Until then, Blogland,