Author: Melissa Landers
TWs: Slavery, forced marriage, blood
Series: Starflight (Book 1)
I hauled STARFLIGHT by Melissa Landers back in 2016… and unhauled it in February after this year after hearing a lot of so-so reviews.
Then I decided to join an adult YA book club and surprise, surprise- this was their book of the month. I told myself it couldn’t be that bad. I generally love anything and everything set in space (the glaring exception being Beth Revis’s series ACROSS THE UNIVERSE) so I decided to bite the bullet and give STARFLIGHT another chance.
Let me start this by saying that’s not necessarily a bad book. I was pretty much hooked from the start and read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s not a complicated read, the majority of the characters are likeable, and Landers does a great job in making the reader want to know what’s going to happen next.
However, the ending felt a lot like jumping off the high dive with every intention of doing a swan dive… and ending up doing a belly flop. I had so many unanswered questions at the end of the book. Was Doran not going to try help his father? Was he going to confront his mother? It felt like Landers forgot the plot of her own book at the end and was just like “Oh well, here’s an ending!”
But even with that, I still kind of enjoyed it. I kept thinking that Doran and Solara had great chemistry and I liked the “reformed” bad boy plot until I realized that Doran wasn’t a reformed bad boy- he was an asshole who admitted he wanted to run Solara into the ground and was going to dump her at an outpost in the middle of space where she probably would have been sold into slavery or worse. He literally spent his entire high school career making sure Solara had a terrible time because she won a scholarship. This is an entitled, rich boy who mocked a poverty stricken orphan every day.
His sudden realization that she’s a person, that she matters, and that she shouldn’t be treated like scum on his shoes isn’t romantic. While I do enjoy the enemies to lovers trope, Doran actually owned Solara and made her life a living hell. He knew that she desperately needed to get to the outpost and he took advantage of her.
Supposedly Doran’s reaction to Solara and deciding to drop her at an outpost in the middle of space stems from him being triggered by her tattoos. And while I’m glad that’s something the author included (and his PTSD), Doran was an asshole way before then and that’s why his “trigger” is used as a plot twist. When most people are triggered, they act out of the ordinary but Doran just acted like the bastard he always is. There was a lot of care to try and explain away his bad behavior but… I’m not having any of it.
At the unsatisfying conclusion of this book, I saw there was a sequel and I had already decided to read it because I wanted to fill in the gaping holes that weren’t filled in book 1. Only book 2 doesn’t cover Doran and Solara. No, book 2 is all about my two least favorite characters from STARFLIGHT. After reading reviews, it’s apparent that the spoiled princess is still trailing along her best friend who left his entire life behind to protect her. I’m not about that.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book. Again, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read but it lacks.