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!
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
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
Janicu, I really did!ReplyDelete
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. :-)