Will love set them free—or seal their fate?
In the sixty-seventh century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders one of the men who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.
But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.
I’ve been going back and forth over what to say in this review. It wasn’t what I expected. Some of the sci-fi elements were cool with the floating houses and cities. The prison wasn’t as harsh of an environment, which I really appreciated especially after reading some of the chapters that came before. Trev was a likeable guy. He was a bit innocent for someone who grew up in a crime family. His family was strange and his father was creepy.
As for Khim. I hurt for him but felt that with how recent the sexual assault was and only weeks passing, that his relationship and emotions for Trev weren’t realistic. He was a vat grown human made to be a soldier to fight in an ongoing war(s) that we never really know anything about. There is all this fighting going on but it has no impact on the population and isn’t spoken of. How he saw things or thought through his problems was sometimes intriguing. The escape from the prison was fun. Khim in solitary confinement actually made me smile and sigh in relief.
I feel there might have been a little bit of unintentional misdirection. The blurb begins with them being in prison together and that is where I expected the story to start. They don’t get to prison until 20% in Chapter Seven. The much of that 20% I could have done without. The blurb mentioned sexual assault in the past and I can handle something like that if it’s eluded to or the character is working through the aftermath. And because I thought the story started when they were in prison I was not anticipating the gang rape scene. The scene itself was not necessary. The author did a great job with the anticipation and events leading up to, negating the need for the scene altogether. Because this scene is there, I couldn’t look at Khim’s relationship with Trev as a romance. The two of them don’t actually get together until around 70%. Before that there wasn’t an emotional bond formed, just the need to band together to stay safe.
With as brilliant as Trev was supposed to be I kept expecting him to do more than he did when it came to computers and programs. It also made me wonder why he didn’t try to take his father’s empire down with his computer savy and the dirt he had on the family. Khim is one of those characters you want to take away and protect. This is the second book that I’ve read with android/cyborgs. I now know that I’m not a fan of the trope that makes them slaves and less valued. Where no one bats an eye at treating them poorly when they would gun down anyone who’d hurt their pet.
Other than the unexpected on page rape, the story was okay. The sci-fi world was easy to imagine and had some cool gadgets. The candle for one. The writing was tight even if it was a bit of purple prose at times.