Adrift by Rob Boffard
Paperback, 416 pages
Adrift takes place in a futuristic world in which space travel is common and traveling through wormholes is also possible. The war between Frontier and the Colonies has been wrapped up for ten years and the two groups are working on settling a peace treaty between them to prevent future wars. The events of this story occur in a place in space known as Sigma Station, a mining station that is now largely a tourist trap where people visit from all over the world to learn about the history of the wars and to take a tour of the area.
Aboard the old clunky tourist ship the Red Panda--the place in which almost all parts of the events of this book take place--is Hannah Elliot, a young tour guide who is starting her first day on the job; Jana Volkova, the pilot who was once a Frontier pilot during the wars; the Livingstone family, featuring parents Everett and Anita and their two boys, Malik and Corey; Jack Tennant, a reporter who would rather not be there; newlyweds Brendan and Seema who appear to have just wanted a nice vacation; and an older woman known as Lorinda whp previously worked at a different mining station before retiring. Right after they embark on their tour, however, they see Sigma Station being destroyed by an unknown ship and are left knowing that they are the only people still alive at the station.
Since the majority of this story takes place on one small aircraft, it's important that the characters all stand out and have compelling backgrounds and personalities to keep things interesting. Fortunately, I think Boffard did a great job of fleshing out each character and giving each one enough unique qualities and complex backgrounds to make them engaging to follow. Each character seems to have different types of 'secrets' in their past that are slowly revealed at key points in the story, so I can't really say too much in depth about their backgrounds, but just know that it is worth finding out. Corey, the youngest on board at age ten, is one of those characters that whether you like him or not you can't help but see how useful he is and root for his success. Malik, his older brother, was one of the only characters that I actually wanted to know more about, and I hope that in any future books more tie is spent on his character. Lorinda, Jack, Hannah, and Jana were all figures that stood out to me for their unexpected strength that appeared in similarly unexpected ways. The setup of this book forced the characters to lead the story, and Boffard executed this aspect wonderfully.
Adrift is a deceptively fast-paced book that doesn't seem fast-paced. Since the majority of the action takes place on only one fairly small ship, there is technically not a lot going on, but yet somehow there is always some sort of drama or argument occurring to keep things lively. Boffard also spends a lot of time with the background of each character and flashbacks of events that led up to each person being on the Red Panda. I thought he interspersed these well and at key moments, often grounding the story by slowing down after an intense or particularly action-heavy moment, which I thought was really well done. There is more than enough intrigue and shock in this book to keep you on your toes.
Overall, this is a really solid science fiction space book, and if that's something that you like then I encourage you to give this book a shot. I've given it four stars!
*I received a copy of Adrift courtesy of Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*
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