Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
Book One of the Honors series
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by publicist
Summary (from Goodreads):
Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.
Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.
Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.
What I Liked:
I was expecting to love this book, because it's science fiction, and I adore Rachel Caine's books, and I adore Ann Aguirre's books, and this book sounded really great in general. How awesome is it that these two powerhouse authors collaborated to create this story! Honor Among Thieves was thrilling, shocking, and nail-biting, and I am hooked and ready for more.
This book starts with Zara Cole stealing a rich woman's purse, and some unintended consequences follow. She is hiding from the rich man who is the father of the woman from whom she stole, when she (Zara) is notified that she has been selected to be an Honor. An Honor is a person selected to board a sentient alien ship to explore the universe while working with the ship to help the ship learn more about humans. At first, Zara refuses, but what choice does she have? Becoming an Honor seems safer than waiting for Deluca to hunt her down. But she quickly finds out that being an Honor is infinitely more dangerous than it's made out to be. There is something sinister out in the universe, and Zara may find out about it the hard way.
It took me some to get into this story - maybe the first hundred pages or so. But when Zara is ready to go on the Tour with the alien ship and another Honor (Bea), then I started to get more interested. The first couple of chapters are very necessary to the story, to get a peek into Zara's background and also her desperation to follow the safer path. Once Zara and Bea get started on the tour with the alien ship (Nadim), things start to pick up.
This story relies a lot on secrets and hidden information that Zara is determined to find. The alien ships - called Leviathans - are very secretive and as much as Nadim wants to reveal information to Zara, he can't - not without punishment from the Elder Leviathan. So there is a lot that a reader won't know, because Zara won't know, up until the last few chapters. I was reading intently, trying my best not to peek at the ending (I didn't!), but I really wanted to know some of those secrets! The authors set up the reveals well and I didn't feel clueless or lost throughout the story (in terms of the "missing" information that we as readers and Zara are not privy to, until the end).
Zara is such a bada** chick! She is tough as nails and made of iron, from the start. She has had a difficult upbringing and my heart broke for her, over and over. I love how deep her characterization runs (as heartbreaking as her backstory is). In science fiction, you don't always see heroines or heroes with so much depth. Zara has had emotional trauma in her past and it has stuck with her throughout her life. But it has made her stronger; she is so fierce and fearless!
Bea is a secondary character but just as important to the story. Think of her as a copilot - she is the second Honor chosen to be aboard Nadim. Bea is unsure and a little timid at the start, but she really grows into her own fierceness and strength as the story goes on. She becomes a great friend to Zara (and vice versa).
Nadim is the alien ship - yup, he's a ship. But he is made of "flesh and blood", like a human, except he is an alien creature that is a ship. He is sentient and what is cool is that Zara can feel him, like an emotional connection, and that is new to him. Nadim is really cool.
This book is a bit of a long one, and it's told in parts. The conflict builds slowly, but the pacing of the story is never too slow. I struggled just a little bit in the beginning, but things really pick up in space, and it wasn't too long before I couldn't turn pages fast enough. The world-building is really cool! I would never have thought about this type of concept (alien ships, Honors, sending humans on Tours and Journeys in the alien ships). Caine and Aguirre have created an intriguing (and sometimes terrifying) world in outer space!
There is technically no romance, though others have mentioned Zara and Nadim as being a romance. They share a very deep emotional connection, which was fascinating to read about. It's pretty cool! It's emotional and not sexual in nature. They are a good match as pilot/ship and work really well together - and their bond is undeniable.
The ending of this book isn't super cliffhanger-y, and I suppose it could end like a standalone would, but I'm glad there will be more books to come (or at least one more, right?). There is a lot out there in space that Zara, Bea, and Nadim haven't encountered, so I'm sure they will be encountering such in the next book(s). I'm ready!
What I Did Not Like:
The only thing worth mentioning on my part is how I had a little bit of a hard time with the beginning of the story - maybe the first hundred pages or so. It was a little slow for me, even if the actual events weren't. If that makes sense? I didn't really get invested until Zara begins her Honor training. But that's okay because the rest of the book really makes up for the slowness of the beginning!
Any YA science fiction fans out there? You might really enjoy this book. The comparison of "for fans of Illuminae" is a good one. Anyone who likes that series would enjoy this book. And with such a talented duo behind Honor Among Thieves, it's no surprise that this book could be compared to Illuminae (also written by an incredible duo). Even if you're not into YA science fiction, this might be a thrilling ride for you! It's science-y but not too specifically science-y, which is good for non-science-y readers.
4 stars. I really enjoyed this book! I've been in a bit of a reading slump over the last couple of months, but this book was the action-packed story that I needed. I can't wait for more!