“Ghost Ship” by C. R. Turner

This is a smoothly-written high-paced hard sci-fi action adventure, a bit formulaic and unfortunately lacking in personality and warmth. For example, I never did get to really like the main character, Joel Stinson, even though the story is first-person POV. It took a long time to figure out that he and his sidekick were a couple. There was one short scene in the whole book where they discussed a problem in their relationship and solved it. Almost as if the author had ticked off the “love story” box on a list of “What goes into a good space opera.”

So, I went back and read the two preceding books in the series, to make sure my problem wasn’t just because I was coming in cold in the middle. And to some extent, it was. The first book, Canine Maximux Max, only has one full character, Joel, so we get to know him quite well. It’s a reasonable book, though a bit episodic. The second book, Arcadia Legacy, is by far the best of the three, with a good external conflict and  more internal conflict for the main character. Legacy also moves into more hard science, as Joel moves off-planet and into real Space Opera conflict.

But “Ghost Ship” is a step backward. It takes for granted that we know all about Joel and his relationships with the members of his team, including his girlfriend, so it pretty well ignores them, leaving a big gap in the total flow of the story. This novel is all high-tech gimmickry and high-stakes action. Which is what we expect from Space Opera, but surprisingly, when the human element, the inner conflicts and interpersonal jockeying is missing, the story lacks something.

So if you start the series with this book, you’ll be disappointed. It’s a three-star book in a four-star series. Start at the beginning, and you’ll want to read them all.

This book was first reviewed on Reedsy Discovery

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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