Starfire: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth Review

Starfire: A Red Peace is an intense read set in outer space with a plethora of characters that will either surprise you with their hidden badassery or shock you with their sudden demise. This isn't for the faint-hearted which is surprising when compared to other grimdark books.

Starfire: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth Review
Starfire: A Red Peace by
Series: Starfire #1
Publication Date:
Publisher: Tor.com
Language: English
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
ISBN: 9780765395726
Format: ebook (I got a digital ARC via Netgalley for an honest review)
Pages: 163


A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy.

Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Resistance wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.

Spencer Ellsworth has written a classic space opera, with space battles between giant bugs, sun-sized spiders, planets of cyborgs and a heroine with enough grit to bring down the galaxy's newest warlord.

Review

Starting off this book, I was lost. And then just when I think the young female protagonist got good things going (she met a boy), everything goes suddenly dark. Turns out, there's no romance after all. If Starfire were a film, it would be film noir. As the book that it is, this is totally grimdark.

As disorienting this book was, I was able to keep my attention by remembering the feelings I had when watching the anime Cowboy Bebop when I was 13. I could not remember the plot (and especially the plot twist that shookt me on the last three episodes) but I could vaguely remember the feeling. Each episode comes up once a week so the feeling of awe and wonder lasted for months. That's what was happening as I was remembering all that in reading this book, I made the feeling last. Well, that was intentional when I started; finishing the book was quite a different experience altogether.

Why Cowboy Bebop? This book is also set in outer space. The original Earth civilization died (the solar system itself, if not the galaxy, has gone kaput). Humans thrive across the whole galaxy (or perhaps, intergalactic system as it's possible for people to travel at light speed) along with other celestial beings or aliens. For Starfire, a sinister celestial entity eats a whole star system called the Shir, like Dormammu in Doctor Strange (until it probably has eaten an entire galaxy) and what once was a beautiful galaxy (or whatever, the whole damage was not determined) turned into a Dark Zone.

The Shir... I could remember that evil thing inside the Ways in The Wheel of Time series.

There's three trillion of humans scattered across the empire. There used to be aliens called Jorians, who could jump from one galaxy to the next using nodes (let's just say Einstein's wormhole) and they could access Starfire, the believed to be this energy that connects souls and having a touch of it could possibly bring back the dead.

I easily noticed the reason why I find this book hard to follow. The author has used different terms to denote words that we normally use. I like how he uses a bit of realism. Language changes as time progresses. Of course, characters would use different words that are apt for their time and not because Starfire is a fantastical science fiction book.

Starfire: A Red Peace is a colorful book. As you fly from one setting to the next, the scenery changes, so does the characters. It also reminds me of those steam punk Japanese anime films with giant robots during the '80s.

I can't help but think of the game, Fate II. The first game, Fate, was basically medieval fantasy, having that middle ages culture laced with magic. By Fate II, it's still magical but then suddenly, aliens from outer space (not just one kind but many) came into the picture. The author has this nice way of describing the characters without you actually paying attention to their physique. Color and size don't matter, skill does.

I was actually struggling in reading this book. I just couldn't catch on the world-building initially. Plenty of things happen here and there as if you're grasping for straws or picking up up scraps of something and trying to put it back together. 70% into the book, I finally got a hold on how things run in this book. Needless to say, I got used to the narration and that's when I only started appreciating the book.

I really got nothing to say about the characters, they're all pretty dynamic. The main voice, the female protagonist Jaqi, is this special person that needs to eventually spread her wings and soar high. Meanwhile, Araskar, the male protagonist, needs to realize his full potential. I would love their character development in the next books of the series.

Like I said about feelings, there's always something about the image of space that will creep on me even in my sleep. After reading the book, some of the plot visited me in my dreams. What's more? When I woke up, it's all I think about. I couldn't believe that the story would linger in my head. Starfire: A Red Peace sneaks on my subconscious and whatever it elicits on me lasted. This is one of those books that you thought you wouldn't really give a care the moment you open it but will stay with you long after you close it. Simply put, the story was surprisingly exceptional.

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