July 04, 2012

A Book Review And the Gut Wrenching Question - IWSG

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day for participating blog owners who may be professional or amateur writers. (All you need is the passion and output, published or not). Started by Alex Cavanaugh the author of the sci-fi space opera CassaStar and sequel CassaFire, it is a means for writers to talk about their fears big and small. It is also an opportunity to connect to other writers who may have conquered these or are sailing in the same insecure boat as you.

Today's post is a wee bit different. In keeping with the July 4th fireworks, a book review of the Ninja Captain's CassaStar and the introspective question that results. 

(Book one of the CassaTrilogy)
Publishers -  Dancing Lemur Press
Genre - Speculative Fiction - Soft Science Fiction - Space Opera
Ebook - Novel - Paperback - 246 pages 
Price Rs 731 - 800 (Actual Rs 914) /$15.95  - $10.00
Available at Amazon Kindle Store and Flipkart(India)/IndiaTimesShopping

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?

This is the first book in the series by Author and fellow blogger Alex Cavanaugh and works as a standalone novel.
The story is set in a far away, unnamed galaxy and revolves around a small, elite group of fighter pilots from the planetary race of Casaans. It focuses primarily on the training and inter relations between the pilots and their navigators, and in turn with their mentors.

The concept of advanced  mind powers and the ability to to enhance their flying skills is intriguing. It opens up a whole lot of possibilities in the application of the same in other areas of their life, something I am hoping is explored in the other books in the series.

The protagonist, Byron, whose attitude and behaviour often puts him at odds with those around him, possesses the said ability in its rarer state. His journey to the elite training camp at the remote moon base, his interactions with his navigator cum friend and instructor turned mentor help in his coming out of social isolation, albeit slowly. His flying abilities and new found temperament are further tested during the first assignment which finds him in the midst of an escalating war at the edges of their space. 

The story has been crafted with care, the technology not too far fetched, and the world though alien is painted with human like qualities and emotions. Friendship, trust, courage and belief in each other forms the crux of the story. The training scenes are well drawn and the few battle scenes are gripping. The final battle is reminiscent of Star Wars and the like.

My major grouse is the lack of female characters which I understand has been addressed in the next book CassaFire. 
Believable characters and scenarios make it a pleasant, fast read. 
The dialogue was stilted and formal in places but I construed it as to be peculiarity of that race. 

While the story doesn't offer much in terms of technology and world descriptions, and thus may not find favour with hard core science fiction fans, it's a well written tale appealing to readers of character driven plot lines, first timers to the genre, and fans of young adult fiction.

As an avid science fiction reader of both the soft and hard (I may not always understand the intricacies and theories) science varieties, and someone who prefers exploration and invention  to military action and description, I found CassaStar a pleasurable read. 
For the writing, the characters and the interesting premise, I give this a between 3.5 and 4 star rating.

Personal Disclaimer: This book was an original purchase used for the purpose of review, hence the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author or publishing house.

My IWSG question for the month. Forget the support system, the audience, the sales, will my debut book be as well crafted and interesting??

  Happy summer to many, happy autumn to a few and happy delayed monsoon to the rest. :)


Annalisa Crawford said...

Advice - don't compare yourself to others or you'll never write anything!

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Hi Rek. How lovely to see a review of CassaStar again. I'm sure your book will be awesome. You write beautifully.


PS Have you tried changing the way your comment box is set up? I can only reply when I set it to embedded below post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thank you, Rek! This is a wonderful review. Some of what you pointed out I was aware of and worked to improve in the second book. No, it's not for the fans of hard-core, tech science fiction. But I think my choice to avoid those things gained it a wider audience.
And I hope the inclusion of a female main character in the second book pleases you.

Jennifer Lane said...

Happy ISWG! I've been curious about Alex's novels and enjoyed reading your well-written review. Sci-fi isn't really my thing, though I did enjoy Star Wars. Good characterization is very important to me, though.

michelle said...

One of my goals is to read across genres, and the sci-fi genre is one that I do not bother about!
This sounds like a sci-fi book I should read, to 'break the ice', so to speak...

Cherie Reich said...

A lovely review for Alex! I really enjoyed reading CassaStar and look forward to reading his CassaFire.

As to your question, that's hard to answer. You just have to do the best you can and hope for a good editor to guide you the rest of the way. :)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I read Alex's book. I honestly fell in love with Byron and Bassa and wish that more had come of their relationship. But that being said, CassaFire is on my Kindle, and I do intend to read and review it some day. LOL. Oh finding the time...

We all have that gut-wrenching question. I guess all that matters is, does the story seem good to you? If it does, chances are, someone will really like it out there and is dying to read it.

The Golden Eagle said...

Great review!

I wonder the same thing about my writing--all writers doubt their debuts, I think. But if you enjoy the craft and the story, I believe that will come through whatever you publish.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

A great review of a great book.

Be well, Rek.

M Pax said...

Hi Rek. I enjoyed Alex's novel, too. I started the second.

We all hope to do as well as Alex. Hope you're having a good summer.

Misha Gericke said...

I don't actually think about how well my book will be in the end. It just freaks me out when I see the difference between where it is now and where it could be.

David P. King said...

I've enjoyed both of Alex's books. Looking forward to the next on. :)

Ashna Banga said...

Hi... you have an award for you waiting at my blog! :)

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