Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre
Series: The Honors #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 13th 2018
Pages: 480
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Well that was unexpectedly awesome! See- I expected to like it of course, otherwise I’d not have read it. But one, I didn’t expect it to be as awesome and two, it did start off slow, and I wasn’t sure it was going to work for me. Clearly, I was incorrect. 

That little bit of initial slowness is the only negative I have with the book whatsoever. So let’s get that out of the way. The first maybe 12% didn’t wholly capture me (and in hindsight, the level of detail seemed a tad unnecessary). But I was interested enough to keep going, and I am so glad with my life choice! Let’s talk about why I loved this, shall we?

  • It was one of those incredibly rare books that I literally lost hours of my life in and didn’t realize. You ever find yourself reading along, then suddenly look at the clock and actual huge amounts of time had passed? Yeah, me either. This does not ever happen to me, and it did with this book. I was just so completely engrossed in it that I straight up lost track of time- it was that compulsively readable.
  • I loved all the moral dilemmas and struggles the characters faced. The stakes were so incredibly high during the whole story, and often there wasn’t a good decision to be made.
  • Zara’s character growth was awesome- and believable. Zara had spent her life going through family issues (we’ll get to that) and getting in trouble. She initially rejects the chance to go into space with the Honors, but finds herself in space. She learns about herself, about others, and figures out that she is someone worth fighting for.
  • The relationships the characters formed were amazing. There is a romantic relationship, which I shan’t spoil (but if you have read the book, I chuckled as I wrote the spoiler tag ? View Spoiler ». But that was far from the only important relationship. Zara and Beatriz becoming friends was such a lovely journey. They complimented each other perfectly, and they brought out the best in each other. And I loved how much Zara cared for her family, even as she knew that her going away from them was probably the best choice she could make for them.
  • There was so much freaking action! I am often wary of books that offer a lot of action, but this one was so perfectly balanced. Enough stuff going on that I was always engaged, but never overwhelmed. And of course, the downtime necessary to truly fall in love with the characters!
  • Despite the complexity of the world, it never confused me. I don’t necessarily understand it all yet, but the authors did a phenomenal job of giving the right amount of information at the right times. The world itself became a huge part of the plot as a result, and I felt fully immersed, yet always excited to learn more.

Will I Read the Next Book? Um yeah, can I have it this actual second? Of course I will read it! I feel like with such a vast world, there is unlimited potential, and I cannot freaking wait.

Bottom Line: In the end, the slow start was a non-issue because the rest of the book was just that epic. This book had it all: fabulous characters I was rooting for, a world I couldn’t get enough of, and super high stakes that made it impossible to put the book down!

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 27th 2018
Pages: 480
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

This one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t dislike it or anything, but neither was I particularly eager to pick it back up. This is going to be one of those dreaded “meh” reviews where I flat out just don’t have a lot to say about it either way. But I’ll try!

It did have some positives, of course. I enjoyed the relationships in the book. There were two main relationships, and I was quite invested in both. The characters were pleasant enough. I didn’t quite fall in love with them, but they were certainly enough for me to root for and care about their outcome. I think that is kind of the overall theme for me: Everything was fine, there was nothing that made me hate it; there just wasn’t anything that made me love it either. I did like that there were a lot of diverse elements weaved into the story; that was most definitely a major win!

The world building was a bit lacking, and I didn’t fully understand the dynamics. But really I think my main complaint was that it all felt so very predictable. I was never really wondering what was coming next because I felt like I knew already. As such, the stakes didn’t feel terribly high, and nothing was really compelling me to keep reading.

Oh, and I read that this was apparently a sort of Anastasia retelling? I don’t know if that will mean anything for others reading the book, but I don’t actually know much about Anastasia, so there’s that. I mean, I know about the actual Russian human woman named Anastasia who the movie was based on. But she is actually dead, with scientific confirmation, so… sorry? Also, you’re totally welcome for the random foray into “Myths and Tales from Russia”.

Real Anastasia. Literally has nothing to do with this book in any capacity. I’m not sorry for this tangent or the random pictures. 

Will I Read the Sequel? Yeah, probably not. I mean, just too many books, too little time. I bet the cover will be gorgeous though. And if I see good reviews, I suppose my mind could be changed. So… maybe but leaning toward no.

Bottom Line: Though not a bad book, just simply not enough to hold my interest. If you are a space fan (especially with royalty involved!) it could be worth a go!

Do you like books with space themes? I love ’em, so feel free to recommend all the space books!

(Also- what do you think happened to Real Anastasia? We can and should debate this.)

Posted February 12, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Dual, Review / 30 Comments


30 responses to “Dual Review: Space Jams

  1. Wow Honor Among Thieves huh? I wasn’t sure about this one but with a review like that I’m leaning towards it now. I’ll have to add that one. I love it when there are no good choices *cough Clarke cough* and the compulsively readable part- that sounds fantastic too.

    Heart of Iron yeah probably not my thing. The cover had me curious, it’s pretty nice, but it just doesn’t really grab me. Anastasia huh? I don’t know about retellings in space sometimes- I mean I’m sure they do work, but don’t always appeal to me. Oh well.

    Nice reviews. Sounds like Honor Among thieves needs to go on my list!

    • YEsssss do it!! It’s really really good. Remember when we were talking about books that kind of felt Lovecraftian but weren’t like, replicas? This was the one I was talking about! It was so good and YES- it was full of terrible The 100-like choices!

      Right, the cover for Heart of Iron is one of my favorite book covers of all time. But alas. I feel the same- retellings in space and I haven’t mixed. I actually didn’t know it was one until after I read it- but I think that is probably why it felt so predictable, in hindsight?

  2. OMGGG your review of Honour of Thieves makes me want to drop everything and read it now! It sounds absolutely amazing. I’ve heard from Aila that she adored Heart of Iron, it sounds like fun despite the predictability.

  3. I am not surprised that Honor of Thieves was great given that writing team. I love Poston’s contemporaries, and was actually disappointed her new book was fantasy. Still, I am sad it didn’t work out. I guess I sometimes like space books. I am more of a space opera reader, having had success with the Illuminae books and the Starbound series. Great reviews!

    • Aw thanks! Yeah I have heard ALL the great things about her contemporaries, I need to read one soon! I mean, the writing was certainly fine, it was just… not that exciting for me honestly. And I had expected it to be? I honestly think you being more of a contemporary reader would help you with Heart of Iron- because the relationships (friendship and romantic) were definitely the best part!

  4. I have both of these books and I’m actually super excited to read both of them! I’ve read mostly positive reviews for Heart of Iron and mixed reviews for Honor Among Thieves but YES I want to read both of them asap! I’m actually reading them soon.

  5. WHOA. Honor Among Thieves got a five-star review from you? I want to lose myself in a book – I feel like I haven’t experienced that in such a long time.

    I’m also reading Heart of Iron now and I’ve been wary given all the ‘meh’ reviews.

    • Yesss! I almost went with 4.5 because of the beginning? But then I thought- screw it, I loooooved the rest of it so who even cares?!

      I hope you have better luck with Heart of Iron! I have seen some good reviews too, so it could very well just be a personal thing! My fingers are crossed for you 🙂

  6. I haven’t read anything from Rachel Caine since I binge read her Morganville Vampire series years ago. But I do remember that she could write a book that was so freaking unputdownable so I have no doubt that Honor Among Thieves was that good. I’ll be checking that one out… and skipping Heart of Iron.

    • Yay, I hope you love it! This was my first book of hers, but it won’t be my last! Heart of Iron… I mean, it wasn’t terrible- and if you don’t mind predictability it could work? I feel kind of bad that I didn’t like it- I think because of the epic cover 😉

  7. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Honor Among Thieves sounds pretty damn interesting. I hadn’t heard of it at all and I obviously have missed out on being excited for an interesting sci fi read. I’m adding that to my TBR right now. It sucks Heart of Iron was a meh read for you, though. I’m excited to read that on so I’ll still give it a read if I can get a hold of a copy but I’ll temper my expectations a touch. I like that it’s an Anastasia retelling which is cool and a little different. Maybe it’ll be bit less meh for me.

    • I think part of the problem for me with Heart of Iron is that if I know how the plot is going to go (like in a retelling) it loses a lot of the excitement for me. I didn’t know it was a retelling going in, actually- so it really could still work great for you!

      And yeah, I loved Honor Among Thieves! I expected my reviews to end up being the other way around, but then… NOPE! Hope you love them BOTH when you get the chance 😀

  8. Kel

    I had similar reactions to Heart of Iron, but for opposite reasons. XD As for Anastasia, I always assumed they were referring to the awesome 20th Century Fox animated, musical film from my childhood. Could it be you haven’t seen it? Gasp! Great reviews as usual, Shannon!

    • Ooooh now I am curious to your reasons! And YES- that IS the Anastasia they’re talking about, the animated movie, but the animated movie is based on the lore that Anastasia Romanov somehow survived the execution of the royal family and is/was living. It’s a convoluted story, but THANK YOU for being the only person who wanted to indulge my nonsense about it 😀

  9. Kel

    Can’t fully blame them for picking the movie. It does have a happier ending than the real life story, lol. (Plus killer songs) It’s funny though. The Anastasia dead or alive question kind of caused some issues for Margaret Peterson Haddix in her Missing series about time traveling thieves kidnapping famous kids. She listed Anastasia as one of the kidnapped kids in the first book (before the conclusive remains were found), but that news came out before the book focusing on the Romanovs published, so she altered a few things to match the new narrative (instead of sticking to the old lore).

  10. I don’t even really like space books buuut I’M SO EXCITED FOR HONOR AMONG THIEVES BECAUSE OF RACHEL CAINE. (I’m obsessed with the Great Library series ahh!!!) So that’s definitely on my wishlist. ?? And I have no clue what happened to the real Anastasia except what the kids animated movie said. And I’m like 14% sure there’s not actually a talking bat in the historical version but like??? Who can say.

  11. SPAAAACE! Okay, I’m actually realizing how FEW books I’ve seen around with space themes?? I guess I never thought about it before since I’ve never been too big on space and sci-fi, but these two sound really intriguing (and those covers omg). Anyway, thanks for such thorough reviews, I really do think Honor Among Thieves is going straight to my TBR 🙂

  12. Love space themes – love scifi. I actually haven’t read any Rachel Caine but I know she has another series on my TBR list. But I have read Ann Aguirre’s Razorland series and I just looked it up again – I had no idea there was a fourth added to that series last year. Just added it so thanks! Looking into this book by both of them as well.

  13. OH wow a 2.5 star rating means ROUGH from you. So much lower than average, wow. Also I keep confusing the two books, but really glad that Honor Among Thieves was really good. Guess I’ll check it out at the library or something.

  14. I do like space themed books. I really loved Honor Among Thieves, so glad to see you did too. I started reading Heart of Iron, but then I kind of abandoned it. I gotta try to finish it this week. Hopefully tomorrow when I have a day off.
    Great reviews!

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