By: Alex White
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Series: The Salvagers
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe combines magic with traditional science fiction adventure in a fantastically fun adventure that all fans of genre fiction will enjoy. High stakes, tons of action, and a very memorable cast of characters make this one of the most enjoyable reads of the summer. I loved this book, and already I’m looking forward to the second book in this wonderful new series.
The stakes are high when the story starts and grow to galaxy spanning proportions. The story follows two women – Nilah Brio, a twenty something year old car racing champion and Elizabeth ‘Boots’ Elsworth, a forty something year old ex-military, ex-reality TV star who’s fallen back on selling treasure maps to salvage sites which may or may not be worth anything. Nilah has a bounty on her head and is on the run from an all-powerful witch when she careens headlong into Boots who is running from a very angry former friend she duped with a possibly non-legitimate map to the greatest shipwreck of all time.
The world this is set in has a perfect marriage of magic and science. The people of this universe have space travel, warp drives, and are born with magical glyphs. Each glyph has one specific task. Some magical abilities are of the sort we are used to – flight, mind control, etc. Others are more unusual such as hotelier or mechanics based magic. Technology based magical abilities are abundant. This is something I don’t often see (no books with similar types of magic immediately come to mind). These abilities were extremely refreshing to find and opened up all sorts new avenues magic could be used in. I love the idea of magic being not only compatible with technology but evolving alongside it.
Despite being roughly 450 pages, the book is a very fast read. One adventure bleeds into another with Boots and Nilah getting involved in space battles, car races, and a mad dash across the galaxy. Just enough down time is included for sufficient world and character building without making the reader feel fatigued. Speaking of world building, I am very intrigued by this universe. We are given a lot of information over the course of the novel about the history of the galaxy. I want to know more though – more about the magic, about the wars, and about the villains. This information will surely come to light as the series progresses, which is something I always look forward to.
The shifting point of view between Nilah and Boots was used to its absolute best of its ability. Scenes flow organically from one character to another, never feeling forced or leaving the reading wondering as to who is speaking. Boots and Nilah are very different women. Young, wealthy, always number one, Nilah has all the magical abilities and resources she could possible need. Boots, on the other hand, is an ex-soldier from the losing side of the war, a woman without magic in a world of magic wielders, and is still coming to terms with the choices she made and things she’s lived through. This stark difference in their ages, upbringings, careers, and personalities mean they have extremely different viewpoints on their situation and shipmates. Seeing not only the situation but the other characters from these very different viewpoints allows the reader to see a wide range of scenarios both current and past from directly opposing directions. We glean a lot of information about characters through their interactions and conversation with Nilah and Boots.
The backdrop of this story is a universe only a few decades out of war – still close enough to have real consequences on people’s lives and mental health but long ago enough to feel like a distant memory to those not involved. Like the characters themselves we see the war through various eyes. Even those on the same side in the war have had vastly different experiences. Boots and the captain, despite serving on the same ship, have come out of the war with very different experiences and thoughts on what was right and wrong in the final days. And yet, no one character is portrayed to have made the ‘right’ choice. That is for the reader to decide.
While Nilah was a fun to read about and had some wonderful character development, I did find myself partial to Boots. It isn’t often we find middle aged women as a main characters of a series. Boots has her own insecurities and old fears, but she has very real strengths, something those around her seem to notice more than she does.
The story wraps up very nicely without a true cliffhanger as many series tend to include. The adventure isn’t over by any means, but the books stands very well on its own and doesn’t require a long wait for another novel in order to gain that satisfying ending. So if you’re a reader who prefers standalone books this one will be one you want to read.
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White is the perfect book if you are looking for an exciting, fast paced speculative fiction novel. I eagerly await the next novel in The Salvagers series. If you a fan of science fiction and want to see what fantasy is all about, or, conversely, if you are a fantasy novel fan who wants to get into science fiction this is a fantastic place to start.
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