Written by John P. Murphy
Published by Angry Robot, June 9, 2020
My star rating – 3 stars
Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt law, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.
When an asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the solitude she craves, she gets swept up in a three-way standoff with gangs and crooked cops. Faced with either taking sides or cleaning out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the flamethrower. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51978698-red-noise
Hmmmm. Well – they can’t all be winners lol. I had some high expectations going into this one. The synopsis sounded amazing, AND it was nominated for a Nebula award so…. promising, right? Sadly, this was a case of the execution not meeting my expectations.
But before I go off on my negative vent (it’s happening folks), let me start off with some positives, because this book was not ALL bad. When I was considering how I would rate this book, I flopped back and forth between 2.5 and 3 stars. Ultimately, I settled on 3 stars for two reasons. 1 – Even though I had quite a few problems with this book, I really did enjoy myself while I was reading it! 2 – I really enjoyed our main character “the miner”…… yes, that’s how she’s referred to in the book. She had a crazy past and wished to basically remain nameless. But, when pushed to give a name, she gave the name Jane.
The story opens with “the miner” in her ship with a ton of resources. Having just mined tons of minerals (hence, the name, the miner), she’s travelling to a station to offload her haul, stock up on provisions, and get fuel to move to her next destination. As she pulled up to station 35 she realized that it looked abandoned and she was warned off by a fellow miner that it’s not the best place to stop and they’re all assholes. She didn’t have any other choice as her fuel levels were now 1%…. so it was there or death. When she stopped, she got exactly what she was expecting – screwed. They offered her only a small portion of what her haul was worth. After provisions and fuel, she was left in the red and no way to get to her next destination.
It was clear early on that she had a difficult past. She was tough, fearless, and scarred – literally. And it was also clear immediately that station 35 was a place of unrest. She caught wind that there was a “turf war” of sorts where a lot of people died recently and there still hadn’t been a solution as to who was in power of the station. This person ruled this area, this person ruled the other area, and there were all walking a thin line at the moment, trying to stay out of everyones way and prevent a war they all knew was around the corner. So enters “Jane” – a girl who isn’t afraid to kick some ass and kill, and can be paid off to take the side of the highest bidder. She enters into this turf war only because she needs the money and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
This book was a lot of fun and I loved the humour and the characters. There was so much bad-assery, fighting, and fearless shots of middle fingers in the air! All the while we’re on a space station in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like it’s right up my alley, right? Nope….. here we go….
I love me a good turf war! There’s always a grey area as the balance of power tips from one side to the next. There’s usually a backstabber who is undyingly loyal to one side but then turns out to be sticking it to the man from the other side. There’s fighting and killing as people are found out along the way…… but wow. This book dropped the ball on the actual plot of it all!! The main character was hired to kill basically. One side of this war had hired her to take out the other side while maintaining that they were keeping their own hands dirty. I’m all about a bad ass woman taking on men double her size in a smart way. But I need to know WHY. Why is she killing this person? What was his role in the unrest? Was he their hired muscle? Was he a traitor? And if he was a traitor then what did he do, how, and how did you find out? Literally any one of those questions could have been answered in the simplest of ways but it NEVER happened. I spent so much of this book confused as hell. Even a simple conversation between our main character and the others laying out why this person died would have been fine! I don’t care if you tell me before or after the death, but just tell me! There was so much time and effort put into these fighting scenes (which were well written, I’ll give it that) but there was zero effort put into the plot. The plot holes throughout this book were as big as a black hole folks. Or maybe I missed something? I can’t be bothered to reread it to find out.
Another thing that was lacking – character development. Ok maybe it was the intention to keep the identity and story of the miner as a mystery…… but that doesn’t work for me. I get it – you’re creating mystery to the character…… but I need to know at least something about her past! You can’t keep laying out that she’s got all these scars, all this training in combat, blah, blah, blah, and then give me nothing in the end. Just hinting at things and repeating over and over that she’s got this dark past doesn’t tell me anything. It just reminds me that there’s a whole story about her and you’re not telling me….. not cool.
As I say this last part, I need to make something clear, so stick with me….. this book was clearly written BY a man and FOR men. Not that that’s a bad thing! If you look at my all time favourite books, over 50% are written by men. If you look at books that made me cry like a little baby, over 50% were written by men. My sense of humour always tips the scale towards male humour. But this….. this was too much. All the characters were men. Not literally though. There were female characters but there was nothing that differentiated them as such. There was SO much detail put into the fighting scenes and nothing put into the plot. I just didn’t get it……..
After writing this, I’m now back to wanting to rate it 2.5 stars. There was just so much of this that I didn’t get or didn’t like. But, like I said in the beginning, I did have some fun while reading it! I’m going to throw this out there though – Nebula finalist?? Really? Nah……. sorry, not sorry.
Until next time, happy reading!