5:00 pm EDT, January 16, 2018

‘Zenith’ book review: An adventurous debut with plenty of space to grow

Zenith, book one in the Androma Saga, hits shelves January 16. Is this space adventure worth climbing aboard the Marauder?

As a huge Star Trek, Martian, and space adventure fan, Zenith felt like the perfect fit for a 2018 space novel void. On the surface it checks all the right boxes. Kidnapping, ex-lovers working together, galaxy troubles. But it’s not quite the grand adventure the page count makes it out to be.

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About ‘Zenith’

A group of notorious female space pirates, take on their biggest mission yet. One that will not only welcome their leader, Androma Racella back into the good graces of the man she let down many years ago, but also allow them the opportunity to stop running away.

The catch? Working with a bounty hunter who just happens to be the ex-beau Androma left to die after he sold her out. Additionally, across the galaxy, an evil ruler lies in wait to rip apart the world she calls home.

Can the one known as The Bloody Baroness, overcome her name and forgive herself for her past actions? And will she be able to unite a group of warriors against the impending political turmoil?

These are the questions at the heart of the first book in the Androma Saga, Zenith.

The novel is written by co-authors Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings, who previously released a 62-page version of the story as an independent e-book.

‘Zenith’ review

Zenith book cover

The first novel in the Androma Saga, Zenith, arrives just shy of 500 pages. In those first few chapters, readers are introduced to a variety of voices. In the Mirabel Galaxy, the Bloody Baroness takes count of the lives she taken.

Meet your main character, Androma Racella, aka The Bloody Baroness. She struggles to keep her heart and mind in balance. Is she looking for remorse? Forgiveness within herself? She carves a notch in her blade for every person she kills, a type of mourning, and yet she continues to do so, keeping her name in check.

There is a glimpse at her struggle with PTSD. There are frequent nightmares that hint at the unresolved issues. But that is the extent of it. This could be one of the most interesting issues for Andi to explore. It either deserves far more attention than it is given, or should be eliminated from the start.

A complicated heroine for sure, it takes most of those 500 pages to get a sense of who this girl is on the inside. There’s no doubt that she has layers, and her chapters of the book are the primary driver of the story. I couldn’t help but want to read straight through Andi’s sections.

At the top of the novel, the book takes its time getting to the point of the mission. The pacing is not quite exciting enough to grip your attention right off the bat. Roughly 100 pages in, the crux of the mission is made clear. Andi must rescue the son of the general whose daughter died under her watch. And she must rescue him with a man she once tried to kill.

Dex, at times, tries to be the kid who go kicked out of prep school, which makes you love him, the bad boy, but all the winking in the world can’t get him close to filling that role. The push and pull between Andi and Dex is flirtatious and packs plenty of tension. But their relationship, and consequences of their past misgivings, are not unique by any means.

The book jumps between character perspectives. Events are recounted almost immediately after one another. And while this is not a flaw, as each character’s thoughts provide insight to their motivations, the rewind noticeably adds to the page count.

Underneath the broad character strokes and ample amounts of clichés, the worldbuilding left something to be desired. I’m still not quite sure how the planets, colonies, and galaxy all fit together or function under one ruler.

The story picks up quite rapidly at the end as the reader is tasked to remember that book 2 will bring answers.

If you are hoping for a space adventure with a bit of romance and heated vengeance from an evil ruler who wants to reign over all the planets, you’ll get a taste of that here. But don’t expect to be left wanting more.

I’d like to say I’m not counting myself out on this series yet, as I believe the base of the story does hold some potential, so I hope the second book can jump-start the action from the get-go and bring more depth to the characters and the consequences of their actions.

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