Skip to main content

The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald


I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Outback Stars in a giveaway at Janicu's Book Blog. She read and reviewed it awhile back and enjoyed it so much she decided to give away a copy to spread the love. Awesome, no?  She really piqued my interest, so I was thrilled to get a copy. The Outback Stars is military scifi meets space opera meets Australian mythology. Janicu says (and I agree with her):
I think if you are a fan of Elizabeth Moon you will like Sandra McDonald's books, particularly because of the military aspects. If you like Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre you may like this as well. The author was an officer in the U.S. Navy and her knowledge of the day to day workings of the military seems to really show in this novel.
She's right on with that assessment. Specifically, it reminded me in many ways of the wonderful Games of Command. So if you're a fan of that book like I am, this one might be for you. 

Lieutenant Jodenny Scott is in a bad way. One of the sole survivors of the destruction of the Yangtze, she's spent months in forced recuperation and can take it no longer. She makes the decision to cash in a favor and finagles her way into a new job on the Aral Sea in lieu of curling up and dying of guilt and grief. Even before she sets foot on board, Jodenny is warned that the Aral Sea is an unhappy ship. She soon finds this to be true as she is put in charge of a completely derelict division, complete with pregnant ensigns, uncouth civilians, possible Japanese mafia members, and one accused rapist. All of whom need her. And Jodenny starts to flourish once more as she is back in her element organizing her division and prodding her people toward excellence. But the borders between officer and enlisted, history and mythology, reality and memory begin to blur, Jodenny finds it difficult to know which course to chart.

I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience. I enjoyed the politics, the familiar military lingo, the slow, careful character development. In fact, oddly enough, I would say nostalgia was the primary emotion I experienced while reading The Outback Stars. I grew up a military brat and reading this made me feel like I'd been transported back in time a decade or so when my days were filled with new bases, adjusting to new environments, and a good night was nestling in and watching Star Trek with my dad. At the same time, the inclusion of the unfamiliar and intriguing Australian mythological elements kept me fascinated and really enriched the story. I felt satisfied with the ending, but kind of tickled to find out there is a sequel and a third one in the works, due out July 21st. Thanks, Janicu!  

Comments

  1. Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! It was a good book for all the reasons you listed (politics, careful character development) - I found very little to complain about! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked this one too, especially the military background and details, but wasn't 100% convinced by the romance subplot. Maybe I missed it, but I couldn't feel why they fell for each other.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Janicu, I really did!

    Li, I see what you mean. I think it was a matter of timing and that they were drawn to each other's strengths and also possibly felt that they could help the other somehow. Like when Terry says it was all over for him when she told him his boots needed shining. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Review | A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

The first review of the year! Writing this one always feels fresh and hopeful to me and like it may set the tone of my reading year in a way. This was a very good one to start with. And the moral of this story appears to be: I will never tire of Beauty and the Beast retellings. A fact I was not unaware of, but that I am happy to have confirmed once more, this time after reading Brigid Kemmerer's A Curse So Dark and Lonely. My favorites tend to run the Robin McKinley way, with the most recent favorite retelling being Meagan Spooner's wonderful Hunted. But this is the first retelling of my favorite fairy tale that I've read that includes both traditional fantasy and modern contemporary settings. I didn't think it could work. Or, at least, I was skeptical that the one would interfere with the other or that the different dialogues might clash. How happy I was to find that the whole thing played out seamlessly. How happy I am to have discovered Brigid Kemmerer's writin…

Review | All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

I thought today would be the perfect day to review this unicorn of a book. It is All Saints' Day—a fitting day to revisit all the crooked ones, no? It is also the first day of November and so, today, . . . well, you know the rest. What I'm saying is, today is kind of the perfect day to do all the Maggie Stiefvater-related things! Which is, of course, why I'll be attending her signing event later this evening at my local indie, key in hand. I know. I win today. I do. What I do not do is take it for granted. My good fortune or this book. This beautiful, beautiful book. But before we get into my reaction, I want to make a brief request. If you haven't yet had a chance to read Maggie's post on how this book came about and what it was originally going to be and what it actually became, I straight up implore you to do so. It is one of my favorite things I've read this year and it is something I needed to read this year. My favorite line? "I discovered that I wa…

Angie's Best Books of 2018

It is the last day of the year. Are you with me? We made it this far. I think we'd better keep going. I always enjoy arriving at this final post of the year so much. I love seeing all of your lists and all of the books and words and hearts and monumental efforts that gave you life this year. That helped get you to this point. With me. I have felt rather keenly these last 365 days how in it together we are. How we have to be. And I am grateful for you. For each of you who leave comments and send recommendations and write and read and push forward into the darkness. I'm so grateful for you. 
And so here I leave my best books of the year. It's a whopping 28 titles, guys. Twenty. Eight. I haven't had a list that long in a handful of years at least. That is something to smile at. A record of a year well read, indeed.

Photo by @aamith (in the order in which I read them)

Circeby Madeline Miller The Princeby Katharine Ashe Burn Brightby Patricia Briggs Any Groom Will Doby Charis …