Asteroid Outpost by John Bowers
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This is a hard book for me to rate. It's been a while since I read it, but I still haven't changed my mind about what I thought I should rate it (I thought I'd be in between and I still feel that way). I will say that it was really quite satisfying for an impulse buy.
There is something that just works about space westerns. Even if Fox did cancel Firefly because they were crazy, I knew that show was magic in the first five minutes. I mean, isn't space the final frontier? Well, Bowers captures all the wildness, the corruption and the lawlessness of space. And he puts a newbie Marshal (who was once a war hero) in a situation where his determination to see justice done might just get him killed.
Overall, this was a well-written book. I do feel that Bowers captured a really gritty feel and showed how deeply corrupt things were on Ceres and in the mining asteroid belts. It did remind me of how things were in the Real Old West. While Nick is definitely a White Hat, he has no issues with getting his hands bloody.
Readers who are sensitive to topics of sexual violence will definitely want to be careful with this book. There were aspects that made me absolutely livid, because that is a really sensitive topic with me. Sometimes I even had a anti-male rage going on, but Nick was just as hot about what was happening, so it does prove that not all men are like that. Yeah, what the Farringtons were doing to women in this book (and allowing to be done) was seriously dark. It made it hard to keep reading at times. I listened to this on my Kindle Text-to-Speech and it was a very visceral thing to hear about the abuses that were taking place at the Farrington Lockup. I'm not a violent person, generally, but this book made me feel murderous.
Overall, Nick was a very likable character that I respected. I totally felt his strong need for justice. I'm wired that way as well. However, I was conflicted about Nick's love life. I felt like his aversion to commitment was more of a throwaway to fit into the concept of him as a roaming marshal. It made me feel he was a bit skeevy, to be honest. At least he showed integrity in many other ways (and I can't fault that he was honest with the women he was involved with). I think it's deeply icky for character to bed hop, so I definitely could have done without that.
I feel that the secondary characters could have been a bit more developed. Misery was barely three-dimensional. Monica moreso. I loved that they were both black women. :) I did like David quite a bit. He seemed like one of the more fleshed out secondary characters, strangely enough.
I do think Bowers is working out his issues with religion in his fiction. He seems very cynical about organized religion, but I don't get that he's anti-God or anti-people of faith, but just not a big fan of some of the behaviors that occur in the religious community. I can respect that a writer uses their fiction to work out their issues, as long as they don't obviously get out their soapbox, and he didn't do that. So we're cool. I agree that the minister was pretty ridiculous to take his beautiful, young virginal daughters into a mining community with the worst of the worst and not expect something like that to happen. It's not that I don't believe in God's protection (I definitely do), but he didn't even rely on that, but just this arrogant belief that he had been called there to minister to the Lost (and he could save all the souls). So, yes, I was feeling Nick when he read the minister the riot act.
We read this for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group and I felt the action was definitely high caliber. Nick isn't afraid to dive into the fray, and the suspense was killer. I mean these folks were evil, and there are few things more disturbing to me than corrupt law enforcement.
I can't quite convince myself that this is a four star book. It's hovering, so I'd have to go with 3.5 stars. One of my pet peeves is abrupt endings and when tension dissipates too quickly, and I thought that was an issue. And honestly, I think a lot worse things should have happened to the bad guys, based on how horrific their behavior was.
I will probably continue this series, but I am not feeling Nick's bed-hopping, and I hope that isn't a pervasive trend in this series.
I think fans of Firefly and the movie Serenity and also of the show Ripper Street (not Western but about the law in London in a very rough area full of corruption) would like this book. But be warned, it's not for the faint of heart!
View all my reviews