Title: Zenith (The Androma Saga #1)
Author: Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Published: 21st June 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis from Goodreads
There is darkness sweeping across the stars.
Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.
When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.
Meanwhile, on the far side of 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 final 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 towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.
“Thirty-six days of endless darkness.”
General Thoughts (non-spoiler)
This is the first book I’ve read in 2017, and it’s definitely gotten me back in the mood for reading! I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for a good old while now because Sasha is one of my favourite booktubers, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s super easy to fly through because this is only a short part-one of a full series, and sets up the next part of the story well.
If you’re looking for something light and fast paced between other, heavier reads, definitely pick this one up (you’ll 100% have it done in under two hours, even if you’re a slow reader)!
Review (contains spoilers)
As I said, I’ve been meaning to pick this book up since it came out (I even pre-ordered it at the time) but I knew it was short and was waiting to see if part-two of this story would be released any time soon, but I haven’t heard anything about that yet! So I just decided to divulge this one now and wait for the next.
Anyway, time to talk about the book! I tried to go into this one without any expectations or spoilers – I feel that’s the best way with sci-fi/ fantasy books. The only thing I actually knew was that it was sixty two pages long, so obviously there wouldn’t be much content or extensive world building. Even though it was short, I didn’t feel overloaded with information dumps throughout – saying that, there was a lot of unique and unusual planet/ place names mentioned fleetingly which I didn’t quite grasp or remember, but I’m sure I’ll pick them up further into the series. I suppose since most of us have seen sci-fi movies, such as Star Wars, we already have an idea of what these types of worlds look like, so the lack of world building wasn’t a major issue for me.
One of the things I particularly appreciate within this book is its beginning (and continued theme of hatred and revenge). We’re first introduced to a man named Valen Cortas, who has been locked in a dank cell for thirty six days. It’s clear that he’s trying his hardest not to go insane, but he’s becoming warped with the idea of revenge (who doesn’t love a story that begins with a hate filled character seeking retribution upon another???).
“I am Valen Cortas.
Vengeance will be mine.”
Valen continuing to repeat these words throughout the preface sent chills down my spine, and instantly left me curious for more information. The first part of this story even gave me Vicious by V.E. Schwab feels (and I love that novel to no end, so this is definitely a good thing). Apart from finding out who his father is, we don’t really know anything else about Valen. Who betrayed him? Why does he seek revenge? How did he end up in that cell? We know he was ‘kidnapped’ three years ago, so why has he only been in that prison for thirty six days? Valen has definitely peaked my interests and I can’t wait to find out more about him and his history.
After this initial introduction, we meet our protagonist, Andi, who is a fiery, sassy, ruthless space pirate and commander of her ship, The Marauder. I’m the world’s biggest fan of strong, confident, independent women, so I instantly liked Andi (she’s a hard character not to admire, I feel). Although she is all of these wonderful things, it’s clear to see that she has secrets and a complicated past, which becomes apparent throughout the short story. Along with Andi, we meet her equally as amazing crew which consists of Lira, Breck and Gilly. These four are all strong warriors and they have great chemistry together – I really appreciate seeing so many strong, admirable female characters together in literature.
For the most part, this book takes place in once fast paced scene, where Andi and her crew are trying to escape capture from three approaching ships. This allows us to see how much of a great, resourceful leader Andi is, and how she thrives under pressure. However, it also means that the plot wasn’t quite so strong. Don’t get me wrong, the mystery and twists throughout were great, but at points it ended up being a tad predictable. And, of course, since this is only part one to this series, the real adventure will start in instalment two, so this was just a nice introduction which has set the story in motion.
So, although the crew put up a good fight, their ship is eventually rendered useless and we find out who the pursuer is – a bounty hunter, named Dex. It was obvious that Dex used to be linked to Andi somehow, and we find out a little bit – they used to be lovers and Dex was Andi’s master? Andi clearly hates his guts, I mean, she did try to kill him, but I want to know more about what happened. The authors teased by letting us know that “money was more important to Dex than Andi” but surely he isn’t that cold, especially if they were in love. I want to know all the details about their relationship, and the circumstances around what he did to her (give me the answers, damn it!). I’m sure we’ll find out more in the next instalments though, especially since Dex will be more involved from now on.
Even though we’re supposed to hate Dex, he’s got charm and I quite enjoy the way him and Andi bicker (well, threaten each other). It’s kind of the same with Andi, she’s a serial killing criminal, but she’s a brilliant character so I can’t help but love her. I wonder if they’re going to forgive each other throughout the series, or if they’ll always hate each other. At some point, I feel like something’s going to end up happening between them – there’s too much tension for it not to (but at the same time, Andi really hates his guts, he’s the main reason she’s so full of hate).
“Dex crouched down next to her, lips level with her ear. “You know, you were a lot more fun three years ago.” It was like he wanted her to kill him
“A lot has changed in three years, Dextro,” Andi said calmly. “Now if you don’t move, I’ll give you a new scar, and this time,” she said, pointing to his right temple, “it will be across your neck.”
After the crew is captured, Andi finds out that Dex was hired to find her by Governor Cyprian, who she hadn’t seen since she faced trial for the murder of his daughter. This part of the story actually surprised me, but it does explain Andi’s nightmares. This was her first kill, even though it was an accident, it was character changing and she’s been on the run ever since – a criminal (she’s really just a victim of her circumstances). Although Cyprian isn’t after her for revenge, he wants to hire her to find his abducted son, to get him back without violating peace treaties with other planets. In exchange for this, Cyprian is going to grant Andi immunity and set her free (do I think he actually will? Absolutely not). This plot point is 100% the most interesting part of this story, as we now know what part two of this series will entail. Plus, we’ll find out more about Valen, and right now, he’s the character I’m most engrossed in.
Along with all the storylines I’ve already discussed, there is one more plot point of interest that’s fleetingly brushed over. Xen Ptera (the planet Andi and Dex are heading to) is dying – there’s constant earthquakes, no water and acid rain. It’s becoming unliveable. So the Governess, Nor, has a plan, a weapon, that’s going to destroy the universe but save her planet. Nor also seeks revenge and finds pleasure in the thought of killing millions. She’s a dangerous woman, and I’m almost worried about what she’s capable of, especially since our protagonist is on her way to this planet.
Overall, I enjoyed this first instalment and I’m excited for the next one (which I hope will come out soon). It wasn’t perfect but I’m so proud of Sasha for releasing her first book, and happy that I’ve finally read a book by Lindsay Cummings!
“In a different time, Andi would’ve felt guilty for her coldness toward him. But that time was long gone. Now she was made of ice, too afraid to get close to him, for fear that he’d melt her all over again from the inside out.
He’d betrayed her, and so she’d betrayed him.
One shredded heart for another.”
- Characters: ★★★★★
- Plot: ★★★☆☆
- Ending: ★★★★☆
- Originality: ★★★☆☆
- Cover: ★★★★☆
Oh, I forgot how much I loved writing reviews! I’ve missed it an incredible amount, so hopefully I’m writing another one again soon 🙂 Let me know in the comments what you thought about this book, and have a lovely day guys!