A page turner for science fiction readers who like a bit of romance, not the other way around.
Edie is desperate to escape her life of service to the Crib empire, so when she’s kidnapped by mercenaries and forced to cooperate with their plans, she’s worried but not exactly anxious to get back to the Crib.
But when she’s leashed to Finn, an ex-slave who turns out to belong to a group of highly trained fighters, she’s given no choice. If she ventures too far—for example, in an attempt to escape her new masters—Finn dies. If Edie refuses to help the mercenaries, they’ll both be killed.
Edie is a cypherteck, and her job for the Crib was to help seed newly discovered planets in order to make them viable for human occupation. After the planet is occupied, the Crib charge its inhabitants to keep the seeds viable. The mercenaries want her to extract keystones from existing planet seeds, which are then sold to Fringe planets so they can be free of the Crib’s control.
To do so, Edie must revisit the first planet she attempted to seed—Scarabaeus. Privately, it’s her one source of pride and the one success she has kept secret from the Crib. But how can she keep Scarabaeus free from human interference when her life—and Finn’s depends on once again interfering with the planet? And what does it mean when the seeds that were supposed to have naturally died in Scarabaeus seem not only active but thriving?
There are romantic elements in Song of Scarabaeus, but not enough to call it a romance per se. This works well because we’re never in Finn’s point of view, and he remains a bit of a mystery throughout the book. The ending is optimistic, but you’ll need to read the next book to get a proper conclusion. That said, there’s no overt sequel baiting in this book—it’s satisfying enough on its own.
The world building is detailed, but you have to read closely to get the subtle nuances between different types of technology, the political issues and the factions involved. To Creasy’s credit, the exposition is done in context, and it’s unlikely to pull readers out of the story.
Fans of Ann Aguirre’s Jax series, or those who dislike Jax’s first person narrative, may find Creasy’s style more enjoyable. Both series feature heroines who may not be defenceless but are certainly vulnerable and heroes on the inscrutable side. Aguirre’s series has a more well-developed romantic plot, but Creasy’s narrative style flows better. There’s a similarity in the way Jax describes hyperspace and how Edie describes biocyph. Creasy uses music as a metaphor, which allows readers to get a sense of what Edie is explaining without having to delve too deeply into the (very speculative) science behind it.
Yay or nay?
This is a page turner for science fiction readers who like a bit of romance, not the other way around.
Who might enjoy it: Science fiction readers who like a bit of romance on the side
Who might not enjoy it: Science fiction readers who like their science to be rigorous