Monday, October 3, 2011

The Royal Scam by Gini Koch

Full disclosure: I have a novella with this publisher (release date early 2012).

I really wanted to love this novella, the first installment of a space opera that looks like a lot of fun. It's about a band of spacers who pull elaborate cons--in this case, main character Danielle Daniels (known as DeeDee) has spent three months impersonating the youngest princess of Andromeda for reasons that are complicated (in a clever way) and lucrative (also in a clever way). There are hints that the group's ultimate goal is to restore the Martian royalty to the throne--and the royal brothers are part of the crew. In fact, one's the captain.

All the elements of a fun, swashbuckling space opera are in place: a motley crew of scofflaws, hidden royalty, old scores to settle with entire planets, alien beings that resemble frogs or spiders, and ships that can jump to hyperspace to travel between star systems. But nothing really gels. The characters are bland and all speak alike no matter how alien they look, and I never felt a sense of tension. Nothing seemed to be at stake, and sure enough, DeeDee and her friends got out of a small potential mess without any difficulty.

Worse, though, I never felt close to any of the characters. They just don't have much personality. I didn't care about DeeDee, and I certainly didn't care about any of her shipmates. She's supposed to have a romance with the captain, but there was no spark between them. I just didn't care, and I badly wanted to.

A note on the formatting: This is a PDF ebook. Like most PDFs, the text displays really, really tiny on my Sony PRS-505. Also like most PDFs, when I enlarge the text, it screws up the formatting. Part of my negative reaction to the story may be due to frustration with figuring out where paragraphs began and ended, which has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with display. I hope the publisher can fix this issue for their future releases (although to be honest, nothing I've tried has made PDFs display better, so it may just be a sucky problem with Sony readers).

Musa Publishing link

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