Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller is one of those sci-fi books that isn’t too science-fictiony, which is one of the things I love about it. I don’t dislike science fiction, but the focus on aliens and spaceships is overwhelming. And sometimes done poorly. This book, though, has just enough of the science fiction part to complement the character building and plot.
Qole is a starship’s (Kaitan’s) captain, and she spends her days with her misfit crew harvesting shadow, a mysterious energy source that lurks in a nearby asteroid belt. Nev is a grunt on Qole’s ship, helping with the harvest. But Nev isn’t just a grunt, but a prince on a mission. And Qole isn’t just a captain, but something more. Together they have to navigate galactic politics and interstellar capitalism while figuring out the mystery that is Shadow.
I liked this book. I didn’t like it like I love Stranger the Dreamer, but I found it extremely enjoyable.
I thought the way that Qole struggles with herself, with the reality of her job—and the inevitable consequences—very realistic. It makes sense that she has such a crusty exterior and a gooey interior. I love that Nev is so well-educated and so experienced in the realm of politics while being so innocent in the real ways of the world. Of course, this makes a harsh wake-up call inevitable. I think he’s a little too perfect in some ways, but I’m willing to look past that.
Now the real star of the book—and only a secondary character to boot—is Basra. We don’t really know who or even what Basra is, but I’ll enjoy getting to know her/him in later books.
So this was the biggest problem for me, and it’s not because it doesn’t post an interesting question or lacks subplots. The premise is fascinating, and we get a tantalizing glimpse of other plot threads to come. No, it was the depth of the plot. Despite being riddled with politics and economics, things that are amazingly intricate on a national level, let alone a galactic one, it kind of dumbs down everything. But then, this is a YA novel, so I doubt you’d get the twists and turns of a Grisham novel.
Some of the writing really speaks to me such as the description of the shadow and the conflict within Qole’s soul. It’s not as lyrical as other books, but it definitely has its moments.
Knowing what I know now about Shadow Run, I’d definitely read it again. It had some great elements from familial loyalty to personal sacrifice. The plot might have been a little light, but so was the sci-fi aspect (which I was happy about). All around, a good, fun read.