Liar’s Game by Kait Gamble is a new novella out from Carina Press on July 2nd. A copy was provided to be from the publisher via Netgalley. The official blurb summarises quite well, so I thought I’d start by including that.
Rumors of Aurelia Popkiss’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, she and her crew have been drifting through the big black, scavenging to survive since the day she “died.” Yet after years of being on the wrong side of less than favorable odds, they never thought that finding a young girl stowed away on their ship would prove to be among the worst things to happen to them.
From the moment Aurelia finds Kateryn concealed in her cabin, Auri knows she’s hiding something. But even Aurelia can’t imagine the true reason for the stowaway’s sudden appearance in her life.
Kateryn’s past is as convoluted and murky as Aurelia’s own. The girl is out for revenge and nothing is going to stop her from destroying Aurelia and her crew-including Keys, Aurelia’s fellow shipmate and the man she’s secretly in love with-to get it.
Aurelia captains a ship full of ex-criminal men. They are all fiercely loyal to her and a bit over-protective. The further along I read the more it made sense but there was still something a bit dissonant between Aurelia being described as headstrong and then letting the guys restrain her so she doesn’t get hurt/in too much trouble. The opening chapter, in particular, hit a lot of clichés and had me concerned about the rest of the story. Fortunately it improved, particularly once Kateryn, the stowaway, showed up.
Although it’s listed as science fiction romance, I’d be more inclined to call it space adventure romance or something like that. There’s minimal realistic science (see below) but the background setting reminded me a bit of Firefly. But with space pirates instead of space cowboys.
The ending strongly suggested that there will be more novellas/stories in the series, which is a trend I’m liking with the Carina Press stories I’ve read. Hopefully the sequel will flesh out more of the background of the world. I’d like to see where exactly the nobility come into it, future-historically.
On the science-front, Liar’s Game was less science fictiony than I was hoping. The actual science was non-existent, replaced with a few cool gadgets, and setting-wise there were some elements that just didn’t make sense. I never quite got a feel for the layout of the ship (in the sense that there were a few times I was confused when people moved from one room to another a bit too instantly) and there was a bit where the way a shuttle left the main ship was baffling and probably should’ve caused an explosion. Also a strangely uneventful landing on Io — this was at least partly explained, but I would’ve liked to read more and it would have been a perfect opportunity to talk about the technological development of humanity.
The main characters’ ship was secretly floating around the solar system but mostly seemed to be relatively close to colonised moons or planets. If you’re trying to hide from society, why are you that close (a few hours flight) to civilisation? Even though they’re being pirates, surely they’d want to hide on the other side of the sun from the big hubs when they’re not in need of supplies? Also, NASA etc already track many asteroids, some of which would be comparable in size to ships, so I don’t quite buy their ability to hide for so long (I don’t think cloaking devices were mentioned). On the other hand, being set in the solar system does eliminate the problem of space being too big for viable piracy, so that’s something.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to science fiction fans, but lovers of romance or adventure romance will probably enjoy it. Overall it was readable by pushed some of my pet peeve buttons which I expect wouldn’t bother many other readers.
3 / 5 stars