Ilona Andrews's Reviews > Song of Scarabaeus

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy
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Sep 26, 11

bookshelves: sf
Read in September, 2011

This will be the oddest review I’ve written to date, so bear with me.

Is it a good book? Yes.

Should you read it? Absolutely. It’s that rare beast of accessible hard SF and action that doesn’t turn into fantasy in space. Neither is it a rehashing of Honor Harrington. It’s unique, it’s SF, it has a female protagonist. We don’t get many of those.

Did I like it? That’s where things get a little more complicated. First, the writing is lovely. I dissolved into the narrative, which is a rare thing for me, because I am usually a disagreeable arse who hates everything. The structure of the novel is somewhat episodic. SOS would’ve made an excellent television series, because every step of the plot is wrapped in its own action bit. Kidnapping – one episode. Coming to on the ship – another episode. Lag escape – another episode. And so on. It was very nicely done. The concept is intriguing as well – a human who can change planets with a mere thought, mentally chained to a killer who must protect her or die. Brilliant.

I recommend this book without reservations. Now I will ramble a bit about why it was not a home run run for me. If you’re planning to read the book, I suggest you skip this. There are no spoilers, but I don’t want to skew your enjoyment of it with my observations.

I started out hanging on every word. But the more I read, the more I skimmed. At the end of it, I am frustrated and not because of the cliffhanger. The world, the characters, the plot, everything about this novel is muted. It’s almost as if it takes a step away from the sharp edges. The world promised us exotic planets, but two thirds of the book takes place on the ship. It’s a very plain ship. It has no odd aspects, it’s never bombarded by asteroids, it never loses propulsion. It’s just a ship. The rover crew of the ship had potential, but just like the main characters, neither Haller nor the captain ever mature into the full fledged villains.

Finn is a killer who very rarely resorts to violence. There are random fights he engages in here and there, but they are fought mostly against mediocre opponents. He had so much promise, so much menace in the beginning of the story, but there are no strong emotions in him. No rawness. No desperation. Edie is still a shy sixteen year old inside and most of the time she either goes with the flow or very passively resists. She is unerringly good, but that goodness is never compromised or tested. As a result, the attraction between the two of them is a bit flat. I’m not talking about the lack of sexual interaction, but rather about the friction, the sparking of two personalities, the moments of genuine fear and wild attraction. I never understood why she cared for Finn or why Finn cared for her. There is very little humor in the narrative.

There is a moment that’s very telling in this book: Edie and Finn are loaded into the shuttle and sent through a jump node to escape detection. Finn jams the door of the shuttle to test Edie. He wants to see if she will resort to mind control to force him. Edie doesn’t attempt to unjam the door. She doesn’t become indignant and pissed off. It’s in her best interests to escape in the shuttle. If she doesn’t, she will have to face discovery by the Crib, something she wants to avoid at all costs. She just meekly waits for him to unjam it. When he does, and they are shot into the jump node, nothing happens. The shuttle floats for a bit, and then is picked up by Hoi Polloi, the main ship.

Nothing malfunctions. They make no frantic attempts to call for help and rig something. They don’t even try. They look at the gauge and they have no fuel, and neither of them gets overly frustrated by this development. They spar a bit. They don’t have sex. They don’t share anything too painful.

I wanted to shake my Kindle to turn the dial up.

The stakes are not high enough. I kept hoping for the sharp moment of “we must do this or die” that mattered to me. There were two or three action sequences, for example one with eco-rads in the spaceport, where the action level spiked, but the status quo was reasserted very quickly. By the time we get down to the planet, where these moments are aplenty, I had become emotionally disengaged from the characters.

I read for drama, for strong emotions and sharper than life characters. I wanted a touch of humor and a touch of tragedy. I wanted the novel to grab me by the throat. It stopped about a quarter inch short.

Would I read the sequel? Probably not.

Would I read the next thing Sara Creasy writes? Yes. I will likely buy it when it comes out.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief im not actually mad! you explained perfectly what was wrong with this book.


Nicky Thank you for this review. I've been trying to work out why after hearing so much about it and how much I will love, love, love it and not be able to put it down I was left a bit meh (I always enter reading/viewing after that much hype with caution but was still slightly down about not being able to pin down my lack of overt love).


Malin Thank you for pinpointing so accurately what I felt about this book, but wasn't able to put into words. I really wanted to like this book, but I had trouble connecting with any of the characters. Too much stuff happened on the ship - not enough on the planet.


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