Jen reviews Dim Stars, a stand-alone Sci-fi/YA novel by Brian P. Rubin.
She won a copy of Dim Stars last year in a giveaway on Twitter. Thank you to Brian P. Rubin for the signed copy and also to the lovely ladies at Storytellers on Tour for hosting the giveaway.
|Series: None||Genre: Sci-fi/YA|
|Date of Publishing: October 20, 2020||Trigger Warnings: mild violence|
|Page count: 353||Publisher: Self-Published|
Kenzie Washington, fourteen-year-old girl genius, signs up for a two-week tour as a cadet on the spaceship of her idol, Captain Dash Drake. Too bad Dash, who once saved the galaxy from the evil Forgers, is a broke loser and much less than meets the eye.
But when an intergalactic evil appears and launches an attack, Dash, Kenzie, and the ship’s crew escape, making them the next target. On the run and low on gas, Dash and Kenzie encounter cannibal space-pirates, catastrophic equipment failure, and a cyborg who’s kind of a jerk.
Kenzie is determined to discover the bad guys’ secret plan. But for her to succeed, Dash needs to keep his brilliant, annoying cadet from getting killed …which is a lot harder than it sounds.
“Armon doesn’t like you, Cap” said Squix.
Dash held the helm steady with his right hand while punching in the code for Acadia’s station manager with his left “How do you know that?”
“He told me today while I was in his office, signing out your cargo,” said Squix. “He said, ‘I do not like your Captain, Dash Drake.’ I’m like ninety-nine percent sure he was talking about you.”
Foo Fighters – There Goes My Hero
I understand this was originally written with the meaning that the heroes he looks up to, are ordinary people. But I’m playing with that a little, by it also taking the meaning, that the hero Kenzie looks up to is just an ordinary man.
Do you ever want to clap at the end of the story because you had such a great experience reading it? I do. That’s how I felt after reading Dim Stars. We all need a book like that- a story where we can cheer when the good guys win, laugh at their exploits, and feel sad when the squid gets put in a jar.
Sometimes life just needs a fun book to get us through the daily nonsense.
Down on his luck, Captain Dash Drake became the hero of Gantoid IV, after the Forger War. His hero status has faded over the years though, along with the perks that come with it and now, he’s just getting by. These days, he runs a cadet immersion program to help pay the bills and to keep his aging ship up and running (the free labour is a big plus too) but, it’s getting harder every season for him to get sign-ups for the program.
Kenzie Washington 14-year-old genius cadet at the Alliance Academy, is over the moon because she gets to spend two weeks on Dash’s ship, learning from her hero. In person. Not just through the stories about his exploits, and the book he wrote – which by the way, she can quote all the important tips – right down to the page numbers.
Armed with that unrelenting optimistic outlook of a fourteen-year-old with a plan, Kenzie, still has that idealistic faith in people* that hasn’t been crushed yet by reality. She thinks the best of everyone but especially about her hero, Captain Drake.
Her Pollyanna outlook does get a little damaged with a big dose of reality, but thankfully not so badly that we lose what makes her so compelling and loveable.
All the characters are wonderful and get a lot of screen-time but Kenzie is the one that carries the heart of this story, with her enthusiasm and willingness to try to do the right thing – even in the face of failure. She’s like Annie, or Anne of Green Gables in space, except not an orphan – well, not entirely anyway.
*using ‘people’ broadly here for the purpose of making my life easier in writing this review.
The rest of the crew is rounded out with some really fun characters. I loved them all and each of them had their moment in the spotlight to prove they deserve to be a part of the crew. A few others are picked up along the way but I will leave them to be discovered on your own.
The first mate, Squix is an Octopus and an absolutely hilarious sidekick who plays the straight man, but unintentionally to some of the jokes. I adored him. Someone needs to make me a Pop collectible version.
Dr. Bill – The medical robot repurposed from loading bay equipment, gave me Voyager-hologram Dr. vibes, but crabbier. I got a kick out of him and Dr. Twillem.
The siblings, Jo and Vox are Crags, in short, they’re rock people. Like Kenzie, they are also cadets that joined for the two-week camp. Jo, is the social media butterfly valley girl, of whatever year this takes place in (I didn’t think to write it down if it said) she doesn’t seem to have a thought in her head about anything, outside her social feeds, but when the chips are down, she comes through with flying colours, or is it flying gravel?
Her brother Vox, is a tech genius and likes to take things apart to see what makes them work- occasionally taking stuff apart that he shouldn’t. Unfortunately, Vox lost his mouth in an accident, so doesn’t speak, but shows his caring for his sister in little ways throughout the story. I loved how he would go back and hug Kenzie, as a thank you for saving his sister, or himself.
Also, his rework of the location transmitter totally gave me Max Headroom images in my head. Omg. I’m still laughing at that little bit of unintentional (or was it?) creepiness.
The cast endeared me with their antics but it was the sweet moments between them that really made them special.
I couldn’t help but think Dim Stars would have been a fabulous audiobook.
Filled with a charming, but zany cast, it’s a story that says if your heroes aren’t up to par, be your own hero. It’s action-packed and twisty enough to keep things interesting, and the downright hilarious situations and comedy – just this side of goofball, kept me smiling throughout and is great for young and old alike. I can’t say enough about Dim Stars. It will be on my 2022 top-reads for the year, for sure.