Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Trouble in the Stars

Prineas, Sarah. Trouble in the Stars
April 27th 2021 by Philomel
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

Trouble is fleeing something, although what is unknown. Changing into the shape of a cute puppy seems like a good way to escape detection, but General Smag thinks even the puppy is suspicious and has it caged, in order to be inspected later. Trouble reverts to goo, oozes out of the cage, and frees all of the other animals that Smag has captured, thinking that they might be the escaped weapon for which he is looking. In the kerfuffle, Trouble manages to sneak aboard the Hindsight, and take on the form of a human boy. Captain Astra isn't thrilled to find him, but since the ship won't dock anywhere to let him off, she puts him to work cleaning the galley and serving meals. The Hindsight has a diverse crew, and they all warm to Trouble and his ways. When the ship is being followed by a Dart from the StarLeague, Captain Astra's suspicions deepen. Trouble oozes onto the Dart in his blob shape and disables it, and the ship saves the very young pilot, Electra. She is wary of everyone, especially Trouble, but eventually the two become friends. The StarLeague is definitely after Trouble. What is his true form, and what will this mean to his future on the Hindsight, where he has come to think of the crew as his family?
Strengths: If I were a shapeshifter, I would definitely be a puppy most of the time, but the story wouldn't be as good as Trouble's. I love the incessant appetite, the turning into a rat in order to investigate things, and the friendship with Electra. Electra is a fun, prickly character herself, and the StarLeague's methods of keeping the peace in the world are a bit cautionary! Captain Astra's approach to them was one I admired, and her handling of the crew and Trouble was sweet in her brusque way.
Weaknesses: I feel like I didn't get all of the pronouns correct-- in blob form, Trouble uses "they", but he is usually in the body of a human boy. Read this on a snow day, so while I enjoyed it, I didn't take notes as well as I should have!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I love a good space adventure, and they are hard to find. This is a great book for readers who liked Holm's new Lion of Mars, Chen's Ultraball books, and Landers' Blastaway. I love Prineas' more medievalish fantasies, like The Magic Thief (2008- my library copy is in tatters!), Winterling (2012), The Scroll of Kings (2018), and Dragonfell (2019), but I can see a definite future for her in science fiction as well. I love it when the books are stand alones of this length-- a lot of my readers are intimidated by speculative fiction, and books like this are a great way to introduce them to the genre. 

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