Stars Uncharted, by S.K. Dunstall

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I'm not surprised that there's a promotional quote on the front of S. K. Dunstall's new novel Stars Uncharted comparing it to the popular book/TV series The Expanse. The two stories have a number of similarities (multiple narrators, ragtag space explorers, nods to film noir), but Dunstall's book has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Stars Uncharted is divided between two POV characters: Nika Rik Terri, a famous body-modification artist, and Josune Arriola, a spaceship engineer with a secret. When a notorious assassin demands her services, Nika decides to run as far and as fast as she can. She ends up on the same ship as Josune, a woman with high-tech enhancements that don't quite gel with her stories about her humble background. Together with a handful of equally secretive crewmates, Nika and Josune scramble to stay one step ahead of their long—and growing—list of enemies.

Of the two series, Stars Uncharted boasts more nuanced characters and tighter pacing, while The Expanse features better science and world-building. (I'm also giving Dunstall's book extra points for creating two complex female protagonists... but I'm taking a few of those points away for the decision to frame the back cover blurb around a comparatively minor male character.) I won't remember any of the technical details in Stars Uncharted a month from now, but I will remember the characters, a handful of science-y set pieces, and the action sequences, and really, that's all any space opera fan can hope for.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
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Posted by: Julianka

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