Stars Uncharted features a ragtag crew getting into trouble, slowly becoming a found family, dodging around the universe to avoid bad guys of various stripes. If that sounds somewhat familiar, then you’re right. It has a very Firefly-ish, Expanse-ish, Long-Way-To-A-Small-Angry-Planet-ish, Dark Run-ish feel… which didn’t hold any surprises for me or stand out in its little sub-genre, but did scratch an itch… and make me want to read more like it again. (Firefly is such a comfort thing for me!)
It does have its different features, such as the body modding plotline that is such an important part of the plot and understanding various characters: everyone is infinitely plastic in appearance, and a good modder can do anything — changing you right down at the molecular level if necessary. This is woven into the plot pretty inextricably, featuring in several characters’ secrets and motivations, holding up the action at times, and enabling the next twist in others. It’s used pretty well, honestly, and the skills of the two modder characters help to steer the story in a slightly different direction, avoiding it being mere chase scene after fight scene after chase scene.
I did find that I’d figured out Roystan’s secret well, well before any of the characters had cottoned on at all, which was a little frustrating. Not sure if the authors plan to write another book and make it a series, but I suspect I’d read it if they did. And I thought that the hints of romance between two of the characters were a little… well, it felt like a cut and paste job. I did understand why those two characters, but it all felt a bit cookie-cutter predictable, like it wasn’t quite about those two people in particular, but just about adding a bit of extra spice along the way.
(My kingdom for a story with strong bonds without romance being required — oh right, my wish has already been granted: I’m thinking of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.)
It’s fun enough, and I’ll probably read future books by these authors or in a series with this book, if I come across them… but I probably won’t be in a hurry.