Ahoy me mateys! Grab your grog! Here be book 1 of the eighth installment of the 3 Bells trilogy showcase featuring the crew’s very own Matey Sarah! Arrrr!!!
running out of space (S.J. Higbee)
Well, all ye scalawags should be familiar with Matey Sarah’s blog and wonderful book reviews. But some of ye may not be aware that she also be a writer. (What be wrong with ye wretches?) When the first book was published years ago in 2017, I bought me a copy. And then bought the next two in the trilogy as each was released. But shame on me, I didn’t read them right away. So with this Sci-Fi Month celebration, I thought I would finally give Matey’s Sarah’s work the time it deserves in return for all those sparkly treasures she be constantly adding to me ports for plunder list.
This novel follows Lizzy Wright whose dream has always been to join the naval officer training program. She serves on the merchant freighter, the Shooting Star under the command of her hard-nosed Captain who just happens to be her dad. But life in space is proving different from what she imagined so she and a group of friends decide to ditch their chaperones and sneak off the ship to visit the space station. What should be a fun little adventure turns into a big ol’ mess.
I have to admit that I was hesitant at first because ye get tossed right into the action on the station with little explanation and where insta-lust makes an appearance. It was a little hard to get me bearings and insta-lust tends to be a major turnoff. At the same time, I was quickly intrigued by the four girls’ situation and wanted to know what they were doing. Being naive, making a massive mistake, and getting caught is what.
Once the women are back on the ship, I began to get thoroughly engaged in Lizzy, life on the ship, and the craziness of the plot. I ended up growing to really like Lizzy. The plot be full of twists and turns and I was surprised over and over again. Plus the insta-lust actually evolved into a rather lovely romance with many unexpected consequences. Lizzy doesn’t always fight for what she wants and let’s others steamroll over her but her personal growth ends up being wonderful by the end of the novel. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with her next.
The two things I loved best about this book were the ship culture and the ship’s language. I can’t help but love ship life (Arrrr!). The ship’s crew are descended from the British empire. Space life is hard and has taken a toll on fertility, especially that of women. Being fertile is valued but women who can have children are treated as fragile and precious creatures to the detriment of their personal wants and needs. Rules, chaperones, and lack of agency abound. Of course Lizzy can have children but doesn’t want to. The shipboard politics of this issue was fascinating. The delight was increased when ye get to meet more of the fleet and see how other ships be run.
I can’t do the language of the ship justice but I will try. There is just enough slang in the language that it feels like English has evolved and speech patterns have changed. Yet ye still can guess what the words were derived from. Add in a bit of ship jargon and it made the language fun while still being understandable. I approve.
The minor negative for me is how some family abuse is handled. It isn’t explicit and makes sense in the context of the story but I was rather uncomfortable. I didn’t like how Lizzy treated her guilt over it. The story is still ongoing so it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I don’t know if, or how, it will dealt with in future books.
That aside, by the end I was very much wanting to know the future for Lizzy. She has matured and the set up for the next section be intriguing. Check in tomorrow for what me thinks of book two. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Lizzy Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…
Lizzy and her friends weren’t looking for trouble – all they’d wanted was to prove that fertile English girls could handle themselves when on shore leave without being accompanied by a sour-faced chaperone and armed guard. Looking back, maybe taking a jaunt off-limits on Space Station Hawking wasn’t the best idea – but no one could have foreseen the outcome. Or that the consequences of that single expedition would change the lives of all four girls, as well as that of the stranger who stepped in to save them.
Now Lizzy has more excitement and danger than she can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.
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