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John Marco – Starfinder

March 10, 2009

26. Starfinder by John Marco (2009)
Skylords, Book 1

Length: 326 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 01 March 2009
Finished: 05 March 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 January 2009

Starfinder will be published by DAW Hardcover on 05 May 2009.
Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review; you can pre-order your own copy from Amazon.

Young boy wants to fly
but must first learn the secrets
of evil Skylords.

Summary: Moth is a young orphan living in Calio, a city on the edge of the Reach – a vast fog-filled waste that no human dares to cross. Moth wants nothing more than to become a Skyknight, one of the few who are allowed to pilot the vast airships and smaller, more maneuverable dragonflies. He lives happily with Leroux, a retired Eldrin Knight, and his pet kestrel Lady Esme, listening to Leroux’s crazy stories of how he crossed the Reach in his younger days. However, when Leroux dies and leaves Moth with the great secret behind the stories, Moth must test his courage – not only to cross the Reach with only his friend Fiona for company, but also to deal with what they find there. For the lands beyond the Reach are the province of the Skylords, powerful beings who aim to control all access to the skies.

Review: While I definitely did enjoy reading this book, I’m not sure that I am 100% in Starfinder‘s target audience. There’s some overlap, to be sure. For instance, I really liked the steampunk-ish elements that Marco wove into a more traditional fantasy-adventure. I thought the adventure aspects were good and exciting, the settings (both Calio and the lands beyond the Reach) were very imaginative and vividly drawn, and the plot had enough twists that things didn’t always go down the way I expected them to. However, I thought this book tended more towards plot/action-heavy, with less emphasis on characters, which is not typically my preferred style. Moth and Fiona were both well-drawn, layered characters, but it felt as though more attention was paid to solving the next problem or getting to the next stage of the battle, rather than delving very deep into their emotions and motivations, and I didn’t really identify with either of them as much as I would have wanted to. Again, being action-oriented is a fine way to structure a book, and I can absolutely see younger readers eating it up. Marco’s created an interesting world, with lots of potential for cool adventures, but I suspect he didn’t necessarily create that world with twentysomething female readers primarily in mind. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I think Starfinder would be most appealing to mid-grade (10-13ish?) boys, although the inclusion of Fiona means it should also be equally accessible to female fantasy fans of about that age. For older readers, it’s fun if you go into it looking for an enjoyable adventure story with some cool, unique elements, but for me, it didn’t entirely make the transition to adult readership.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: John Marco’s Blog

Other Reviews: Things Mean a Lot, Age 30+…A Lifetime of Books, Rat’s Reading, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Moth was flying his kite near the aerodrome when he heard the dragonfly crash.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 23: “It wasn’t just a knife, but the knife of a Skyknight, with a folding blade and a burl wood handle studded with bronze rivets.” – a dome-shaped growth on the trunk of a tree; a wartlike structure sometimes 2 ft. (0.6 m) across and 1 ft. (0.3 m) or more in height, sliced to make veneer.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2009 8:09 am

    I’m normally a fan of children’s and YA books, but my favourite kind is the kind that adults can read on another level. That didn’t happen so much here. Which doesn’t make it a bad book, of course…I just agree with you that we aren’t the ideal readers for it. Still, it was a fun story and I’m glad I read it.

  2. March 11, 2009 4:02 pm

    I’ve seen a few fairly positive reviews on this one now, I think I might just keep my eyes out for a copy!

  3. March 11, 2009 4:08 pm

    Nymeth – I feel like I’ve come across a lot of books recently that really made me wish that I had a 12-year-old brother, or nephew, or neighbor kid who liked reading. I could probably go hang out on the playground of the school near my house and offer them up there, but someone would probably call the cops. :) “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to accept mid-grade fantasy novels from strangers?!?”

    Bart – Well, keep your eyes peeled in a month or so (closer to the book publication date), when I’ll be having a giveaway!

  4. March 11, 2009 5:34 pm

    I had many of the same feeling when reading this one – it seemed more targeted for a YA audience than I was comfortable with, but still, a good story.

  5. March 15, 2009 12:18 am

    Heather – I can’t quite put my finger on what about it made it seem for a young audience, but I agree that it did.


  1. Starfinder by J. Marco | Literary Escapism

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