14 October, 2010

Review - CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

To pilot the fleet's finest ship...

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron's chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

I'm really glad Alex J. Cavanaugh contacted me to review his book, CassaStar [US] [UK], which comes out next Tuesday, October 19.

This was a fun tale of friendship and overcoming the odds that I flew through pretty fast. With this in mind, it wasn't a perfect book and that's why this review will be divided into The Good and The Bad. Very creative I know.

The Good

At first I was really annoyed with the main character, Byron and he, in turn, is annoyed at almost everyone he meets. Byron gives off a surly attitude mixed with a cockiness, which quickly becomes understandable (to my satisfaction) and even relatable as you come to learn about his motives and past.

Byron and all characters in CassaStar are from Cassa and Cassans have an innate ability for telepathy. Each person can not only read each others thoughts, but their emotions as well. Except that Byron has become adept at closing himself off, or putting up his shields, to others.

I couldn't help thinking how much this could help our own society if we could only read people's true intentions instead of being quick to get offended all the time, especially when offense is not intended. Benefit of the doubt anyone? I'm not always the best at that. Although that's perfectly fine on the internet. :)

The story itself is straightforward, which is a nice change of pace, and becomes a pleasant tale of friendship and even poignant towards the latter half of the book. I guess I was in a contemplative mood while reading this because I found myself wondering how closed off I am towards people when all they could use is a friend. I feel bad that it's not always the case that I reach out a hand to those in need and overcome my own comfort zones.

The Bad

While I enjoyed the story, there are a couple gripes I had that I just couldn't get over.

The main thing I had a problem with in CassaStar was the motivations for not only Byron, but the whole fleet against the alien race, the Vindicarns. Byron becomes a fighter pilot because he has nothing left, but that leaves the story a little stale. What does it matter if he doesn't move on to become a pilot in the fleet? It didn't seem like was more than Byron would be disappointed and have to do something else. To engage my emotions, I needed this to be more life and death if not xenocide.

When the fleet starts fighting the Vindicarns, I again found motivation lacking. What had this race done to the Cassans? It really wasn't anything more than they were attacking their ships and I needed more than this. Did they blow up your home panet? Did they kiss your girlfriend behind your back?

The last thing was the cookie-cutter ending. Things just fit nicely into a box and it was perfect for our protagonist to step in. Too perfect.

When Should You Read CassaStar?

CassaStar was a fun romp in space with fighting spaceships and aliens. It's straight-forward and easy to follow, which is a good thing to read when you're, for instance, in law school and all you do is read/analyze technical cases.

3 out of 5 Stars

ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC
Release Date: October 19, 2010 Science fiction/adventure/space opera

If you'd like to purchase this book from Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble.

Also available in eBook format for Kindle, iPad, Nook, and others.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Unknown said...

That is pretty much the way I saw the book as well. Great review

Bryce L. said...

Thanks, yeah, I thought we were on the same page, just saying the same thing in different ways. :)

BryStearns said...

Great review of the book. I found the book quite good, and really enjoyed it. I think that I was one of the only people who actually liked Byron from the get go. Great review though.

ediFanoB said...

I liked your review. My review of CassStaR differs a bit from yours. You can read it on Sunday.

Bryce L. said...

Thanks a lot. I was just trying to be honest. I liked it, but that's not to say I liked everything. :)

ediFanoB said...

We both try to be honest and I agree with you that we can't love every book. Next week I will post a review about a book which I did not like as much as I expected.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Bryce! Sorry, I just now found your review - my bad. I'll work on those areas you felt it lacked in the next book. Glad you enjoyed the friendship and message of the story. To me, that's more critical.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Thanks for the review :) I'm not a hardcore sci-fi reader so if this is for the more casual reader then I'm in :D I'm glad that Amazon UK are selling it, I need to get my hands on it :)

Bryce L. said...

@edi - It happens doesn't it? Nice review, btw.

@Alex - Not a problem. I have to say I loved the emphasis on friendship, which was quite powerful.

@Jamie - This would be perfect for the casual reader. Have fun.

Todd Newton said...

Seak, I saw on Goodreads that you were reading this and it looked interesting. I definitely plan to check it out in the near future.