Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sister writing duo S. K. Dunstall has given us a space opera, Stars Uncharted, that's a rollicking fun read. Its two female protagonists are lying their way through the galaxy. Nika Rik Terri is a gifted body modder who is on the run from her ex-boyfriend, his boss, and a thug working for that same boss. She's giving up everything to get away from them. She just has to get some injuries discreetly fixed first. She picks Bertram Snow's studio to do the work. Unfortunately, Snow has his own problems and they both end up in hot water, on the run. Snow is a much younger body modder who idolizes Nika's work, as he tells her often on their attempt to escape, all without knowing she's really Niki Rik Terri. Josune Arriola is an explorer working as a spy for her true vessel's, the Hassim's, captain, Taki Feyodor, who is to coordinate a surprise meeting with Hammond Roystan, the captain of the vessel on which Josune's working, while hiding her true identity. Things go badly for Josune early on when it turns out that everyone on the Hassim was murdered by info-seeking pirates who work for one of the twenty-plus conglomerates mysteriously called "the Company." Various other crew members on Royston's ship, the Road to the Goberlings, include Pol, Qiang, Guardian, Carlos and the rather endearing Jacques. It looks like Josune will have to hang around Royston and his crew while they salvage a ship that by all rights could have been hers.
Nika and Josune are the driving forces of this story and, for the first quarter of the book, their storylines run parallel to one another, in alternating chapters, until they cross and both end up as crew on Royston's ship Road to the Goberlings. Both women are fairly likable, decent people in spite of the fact that they have spun serious lies in order to be where they are. It turns out, they are not alone in that regard. Their new shipmates all have secrets of their own.
There's plenty of action throughout and the book is a fun read! One of the things I liked most about Stars Uncharted was that we have two strong, capable, and mature female lead characters, with very different and interesting histories. The male lead characters, Royston and Snow are a bit less developed but still fine characters, forming a loyal core. On the other hand, some of the secondary characters feel like they are little more than names for most of the story. (Qiang, for instance.) The villains of the story, Alejandro and Wickmore, are also pretty thinly rendered and feel flat as characters. The world-building felt as if it could have been far richer to me. I felt like some of their ports of call were little more than a name. In spite of these issues, it was still an enjoyable read.
I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from First to Read, along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.
View all my reviews