February is the month of Valentine’s Day, so I usually like to review some romance novels. But sometimes what I really want is an action-packed space adventure with a grudging friendship at its heart.
Rig lives on the fringes of a society carved up by three human factions. Once, she was a brilliant inventor for one of the factions. Now, she devotes her energy to smuggling refugees from the factions’ war to safe places, making the occasional legitimate cargo run in order to make some money. When her former faction catches up with her, she finds herself thrown together with a deadly fighter with a mysterious past. The pair team up to escape and rescue Rig’s sister from her former faction.
Bluebird was such fun to read. It had a cinematic style and had some great set pieces, starting with a sharp-shooting game at a bar and moving at various points through a couple of motorbike(ish) chases, a heist/spy infiltration of a ball and a spaceship chase through a debris field, to name a few. It kept a good action-adventure pace, while still managing some quieter, more emotional scenes where the characters connect.
The majority of the story is told in a close third-person perspective focused on Rig. This is interspersed with interludes detailing Ginka’s backstory.
Bluebird has been compared to the TV show Firefly and I can definitely see aspects of it. Rig is a sassy rebel on the fringes of society, trying to keep her ship together and get paid while sticking it to those in charge. Ginka also has a bit of a River Tam vibe to begin with: petite but deadly, and a bit niave about how the world works. But there’s no rag-tag crew; while there are some found-family feelings here and there, the true heart of the story is the friendship that develops between Rig and Ginka. I appreciated that it was something the characters particularly valued. In this sense, the story reminded me a bit more of Archivist Wasp… although that may also have been a bit of Ginka’s techno super-ninja vibe paired with Rig’s hardy make-do survival. And while there is no romance between these characters, they do have love interests elsewhere (June, Rig’s sexy-librarian girlfriend, is an absolute delight).
Given that this was a debut novel, the style was very readable, without any of the awkwardness that sometimes creeps in. However, there were a few places where the plot felt a little thin and the worldbuilding wasn’t the most complex. For example, it didn’t seem plausible that there was so very little information known about one of the factions when it remains a major player in galactic politics. That said, these quibbles weren’t enough to detract from my enjoyment.
All in all, I had a blast reading Bluebird and recommend it if you’re in the mood for a fun space romp. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more work from this author in future.
Published: February 2022 by Angry Robot Books
Format reviewed: E-book (epub), 400 pages
Genres: Science fiction, space opera
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.