Book Review: Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
Title: Shadow Run
Authors: Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of young adult science fiction. This is because I find that most young adult science fiction novels seem to dumb down the genre for new science fiction readers, or younger science fiction readers. But I was excited to read Shadow Run, because it was marketed as being similar to Firefly and Dune. Unfortunately, this novel fell short of my expectations.
Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland make a nice writing pair. Sometimes novels written by two authors end up being inconsistent or sloppy, but Shadow Run read like the work of one author. The authors also made an eclectic cast of characters that are different from many other novels, but there were quite a few issues with this novel that I could not look past.
First off, the authors over describe the scenes in their novel too much. Instead of showing the reader, the authors talk at the reader. I found myself skipping multiple sentences just so I could get to the point. The dialogue was also dry and not used properly to give the characters depth and story.
But all of that aside, this novel could have worked if it wasn’t for the way that the authors represented their diverse characters. There was racism present in this novel through the two main characters. This was because the authors showed how a white man essentially saved a black woman and planned to save her people. The white man in this context was seen as the savior, and that is not something that we need in contemporary literature. The authors’ gender fluid character was also not represented correctly. A person in my family is gender fluid and they prefer to be referred to as “they or them”. But in Shadow Run, the authors chose to refer to their gender fluid character as “he”, which is not proper. I know that everyone has their different perceptions of how they want to be seen as or referred to as, but it felt like using this language was doing the gender fluid community a disservice. The authors didn’t seem to be personally connected to gender fluidity at all, and their gender fluid character appeared to be a publicity stunt. This character also was not evolved and they seemed to be known only for their gender status. This is incorrectly teaching young adults about how gender fluid individuals should be represented.
I just hope that in the future young adult science fiction novels will take it up a notch. Young adults don’t need unnecessary romances to drive their novels, and they don’t need incorrect racial and gender representations in their books. We are living in a time where these issues are of great importance, and literature can make, or break, these important social concepts. My favorite saying to live by as a writer is “write about what you know” and it didn’t seem to me that Miller or Strickland knew a lot about what they were writing about.