Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stargazer by Colby Hodge

Category: Romance – SciFi
Series: Yes - Book 1 of the Oasis series


Those were the words stamped on the cyro tube holding the prisoner. Gazing in fascination at the bulging muscles of his arms, Lilly wondered if the heavy cables binding his wrists and ankles would be enough to hold him when he awoke from his enforced sleep. Nor was she reassured by the crime committed by her fellow passenger: murder. Or his sentence: life, in the deepest hold the Legion could find.

Yet even sensing the rage and frustration within him, she tied her fate to his when their ship was attacked. Chased by Ravigans across the universe, she had no choice but to put her trust in Phoenix. But how was he able to penetrate her mind, filling it with teasing suggestions and hotly sensual images, when that talent had always belongs exclusively to the generations of grey-eyed women in her line? Was the devil with the silver gaze the key to saving her beloved garden planet of Oasis or just a common criminal out to take for himself whatever he could get his hands on?

Kat, Mel and I read this book together. Our discussion is as follows. Some mild spoilers ahead!

Jace: I found the premise of the story and the characters interesting. Although the writing style was a bit stiff and remote, the compelling plot and mysterious characters (especially Shaun Phoenix) kept me turning the page.

Mel: I skimmed a lot of the book – it just didn't keep my interest.

Kat: I was very intrigued by the plot and I thought the idea behind it was really good. The story felt rounded and well plotted from the beginning, although at first, I had the same problem as Jace regarding the writing style.

Jace: For me, Shaun was the most riveting character of them all. His story, from being a convicted murderer to the most powerful man in the galaxy, was well done despite the flashbacks. Although I guessed correctly his true identity earlier on (with his eyes giving the hint), what kept me reading was his background story.

Mel: I found Shaun much more interesting than Lilly. I guessed who he was early on too.

Kat: Shaun was a great hero. I fell in love with him from the beginning. His character was compelling and he showed strength, vulnerability and a very mature masculinity all in the same time. Jace is right – his eye-color gave away a lot about how the story would turn out in the end, but it didn't bother me as it just heightened my interest in how the author would wrap up everything nicely in the end.

Jace: Lilly was a predictable, bland and one-dimensional character. I found her self-sacrificial and dutiful ways somewhat exasperating even though I understood her motivations. After I worked out Shaun’s true identity, I also deduced who her real father was.

Mel: Lilly got on my nerves so I didn't like her.

Kat: I didn't feel Lilly was one-dimensional. She just never questioned her duty and upbringing. Before meeting Shaun, she didn't have a reason to do it. She was brought up and instilled with much discipline and focus on her role as a leader, and since she was always very sheltered, I understood why she acted quite naive first. However, she quickly questioned her convictions later and she did well in the end by being strong and doing what she must.

Jace: The world building was good, as was the action-adventure. From the swampy planet of Cathra to the verdant agricultural planet of Oasis, the sense of place was immediate and strong. The action-adventure kept the adrenalin flowing and it balanced out the heart (relationship) aspect well.

Mel: I agree, that part was good.

Kat: I liked the world building and I thought it was well-balanced too. The explanation was just enough that the reader would not feel lost and not too much to be boring. The pacing was very good.

Jace: Certain parts of the story, namely at the Senate and at the court of Oasis, reminded me very much of Star Wars, when the characters were dealing with politics and the pitfalls of court life. Lilly going to the Senate to seek protection for her home planet mirrored Amidala (Star Wars) doing the same for Naboo at the Galactic Senate.

Mel: This book reminded me a lot of Star Wars but I guess I wasn't in the mood for all the court intrigue.

Kat: You're right – I was reminded of Star Wars too – not forgetting those starfighters battle scenes. Nevertheless, Hodge made it feel all her own and it never felt like a copy of something.

Jace: I agree this story wasn’t a blatant copy of Star Wars despite certain similarities. It just brought back lots of nostalgic and extremely fond memories of Star Wars, that was all.

The telepathic aspect of it was nothing new – what made it interesting was how Shaun gradually mastered it and eventually became so powerfully good at it. I was so very pleased when he bettered the vile Sacrosanct Mistress.

Kat: I loved that part. It showed that Shaun and Lilly were meant for each other and I believed in the fast way they fell in love.

Jace: If Lilly resembled Amidala (in passing), then Shaun was surely similar to Luke Skywalker, in that both were nobodies who reclaimed their heritage and the mastering/harnessing of their inherent skills. Ruben (Shaun’s sidekick) would fit as Han Solo, wouldn’t he? The next book, Shooting Star, is Ruben’s story and I’m looking forward to it.

Mel: I'm very interested in Ruben.

Kat: I'm also interested in Ruben's story. I'm very curious about his character and what's hidden in his depths.

Jace: This story has a nice blend of heart and action-adventure. The only shortfalls, for me, were the unexciting prose and the one-dimensional heroine.

My rating is 4 out of 5. I like it – it’s compelling, a page turner. Sensuality: Warm.

Mel: I wasn't crazy for it so I only gave it a 2.5/Warm.

Jace: [sotto voce] We can tell from her one-sentence answers that she wasn’t crazy about it, can’t we? *chuckles*

Kat: The writing style was the only flaw in the book, which made it impossible for me to give it a higher rating. It's also 4/Warm for me.


Christine said...

Thanks for the review, girls. It's always great to get varied opinions... and three is awesome!

Jace said...

Christine, it's always a pleasure to read with the girls. On very rare occasions, all 4 of us - Kat, Mel, Lisa & I - will read a book together ... those are real special times. :-)