Ａｕｔｈｏｒ：Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：I received this ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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.
✩ Androma was held back by guilt and also very violent and bloodthirsty in a way that didn’t make sense with the rest of her character.
✩ Dex was the character that made the least amount of sense. He was driven by a need for revenge but also felt really guilty about the choices he’d made where Androma was concerned.
✩ Gilly was really violent but also very childlike. I didn’t like how she easily flipped between violence and then being scared and needing protection.
❝ “I am Valen Cortas.
Vengeance will be mine.” ❞
I came into this book not knowing very much about it other than other reviewers had compared it to the Throne of Glass, ACOTAR, and Six of Crows series. I heard that and was actually pretty excited to read this book because those are all series that I am a huge fan of; however, Zenith ended up not being for me.
The first thing that kind of turned me off from the book was that the similarities to those other series were so strong that it actually irritated me. The first character we meet is Valen Cortas who is kind of a mix between Celaena (Throne of Glass) and Feyre (ACOTAR). As you can see in the first quote I used for the review, they practically take a line straight out of Throne of Glass (“I am Celaena Sardothien. And I will not be afraid”). This is Valen’s mantra which he repeats while being held captive (just like Celaena did in the mines). He is also whipped like Celaena and is haunted by the screams of others.
As for the similarities to Feyre, Valen’s chapters are very heavy in color description and his hobby as a painter/artist is really emphasized. He tended to see people and moments as potential paintings and at times struggled to get his passion for painting back. This was Feyre’s case for the ACOTAR series. Maybe alone it wouldn’t have stood out so much, but I thought there was no coincidence that there were strong similarities to two characters written by the same author.
❝ Gone was the young woman he’d once known, that shivering thing he’d found bruised and broken in the markets of Uulveca. In her place stood the warrior he’d trained and hardened and turned into something devilishly delicious.❞
We also had Androma, aka “The Bloody Baroness” who was definitely an attempt at a Celaena remake. Androma was supposed to be the best and most feared/well known pirate. She couldn’t return home and her past was supposed to be a big secret. She was supposed to be badass but still caring. She was close to her crew and felt bad about the people she killed.
She had a routine where she would sit alone and add tally marks, one for every person she killed. It was supposed to redeem her, but it was overdone and ended up just coming off as dramatic to me. It seemed so at odds with her bloodthirstiness to the point where the character just felt… fake and kinda flaky to me. She didn’t feel real or very well put together. This was actually a problem with several of the other characters, especially Dex.
Dextro’s character did not develop well. He was completely determined to make Androma pay for stealing his ship one moment and then suddenly he was begging her to let him explain why he betrayed her. I didn’t understand why he was so determined to make her pay when he knew and understood why she reacted that way in the first place. And he forgave her so quickly that it just… it didn’t make sense.
Dextro and Androma really had a Matthias/Nina (Six of Crows) kind of relationship. We had one person who was supposed to be hunting the other down. One person that betrayed another and got them arrested/caught. They were enemies who ended up falling in love. And that wasn’t the only similarity to Six of Crows. We also had Androma and her crew trying to pull off one last big job that would have them set for life. It was supposed to solve all their problems. I wasn’t sure about some other things but I wondered why they were similar. For example: currency, Krevs and Kruges; character names, Breck and Brekker; weapon choices/roles on the ship, “gunners”.
❝ It wasn’t until they reached the next set of guards, when they slipped into soundless action side by side, that Dex realized something frightening.
He loved this. Fighting beside her in perfect sync, as a fluid team. For the first time in a long time he felt fully alive.❞
Despite these striking similarities, I tried to push past my initial dislike for the book and look purely at the writing. When I looked at that, I still found the book to be pretty disappointing. As I said, the characters didn’t develop organically. They tended to be very contradictory and just weren’t well put together. It made it so that I couldn’t care or relate to the characters. Even when it came to their relationships together I couldn’t see their emotional connections.
The problem with the writing is that it did more telling than showing. We were told how important someone was to another, how much something bothered a character, what something meant to someone else—we were told so much but we never actually saw those relationships develop through the story. It made it pretty much impossible for me to care about the characters.
Another problem was the point of view changes. Each chapter was supposed to be told from a specific character’s point of view, but sometimes I would find that the writing was suddenly telling me the inner thoughts about a different character as if it was from their point of view. It made the story very confusing because I constantly had to go back and make sure which character’s POV I was supposed to be reading.
The pacing felt a little fast at times and the story breezed by pretty quickly. Which you can either take as good or bad. Overall, I think think the story had a lot of promise. I think if the characters were developed better the story could have been better, but as it stands it needs a lot of work.
Zenith will be released on January 16th for those of you interested in checking it out!