05 June 2009

Review: Starfinder by John Marco

Starfinder is the first novel in John Marco's Skylords series.

On his thirteenth birthday, Moth was where he always was, working at the aeorodome. All he ever wanted to be was a Skyknight, an impossible dream for an orphan boy who lived with a crazy old man and a gumdrop-eating kestrel. Leroux was kind to Moth, but he was prone to telling stories about the mermaids and dragons and Skylords who supposedly lived across the forbidden misty valley know as the Reach.

Moth felt as if he had just fallen asleep after his small birthday party, when Leroux woke him up to tell him one of his wild stories. This time, he told Moth that the kestrel, Lady Esme, was really a beautiful Skylord from across the Reach and that only a wizard named Merceron could change her back. Further, Leroux claimed he had a secret present for Moth, but that was all the old man would say. Moth politely nodded his head and pretended to believe the tale, as he helped his guardian back to bed.

The next morning, Moth woke to a silent apartment. The bird had flown off, and he couldn't wake Leroux. Moth ran for help, but instead of finding kindness, he was thrown out of his home while Lord Rendor (the governor) and his men confiscated his belongings and tore up the floorboards.

Confused and scared, Moth turned to his best friend, Fiona, and the ace pilot, Skyhigh, the only people in the city of Calio the boy could trust. What was Moth to do? As he told his friends about Leroux, the boy started to believe the old man's tales and thought about taking the bird across the Reach to find the wizard.

In Starfinder, Marco has created a simpler world than found in most epic fantasy series, but that world has internal consistency, plenty of conflict, and secrets to reveal. The book was a bit of a slow start, but the rest of the story builds on that introduction. Although the skyfinder itself shares traits with the one ring of the Lord of the Rings, the creatures and the world of Starfinder are fresh.

The friendship between Moth and Fiona was particularly well developed. The two behaved as best friends with a complete lack of sexual or romantic tension. This worked well for the novel and kept the focus on the adventure. In other cases, characters made choices or behaved in ways that were difficult to understand in the context of their development. It is important to note that I read an ARC of the novel, and these problems may have been addressed in the copyedit.

The book stands up well on its own, although the end clearly allows for a sequel. The story line would appeal to nine- to twelve-year-olds. The plot is a bit young for high schoolers and adults, although I enjoyed the story and would consider reading more in the series.

Thank you to TLC Tours for asking me to review this book.

John Marco has a website where you can learn more about his work.

Another review can be found at Things Mean a Lot.

Published by Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN-13: 9780756405519
Challenges: Young Adult, 999, New Author, A-Z Title, 100+
YTD: 42
Rating: B


Meghan 6/5/09, 8:03 AM  

I have a tour stop later in the month for this one. I definitely agree that the plot is designed for the younger end of the YA spectrum as you've mentioned. I still really liked it, though, and I would hope that the characters develop a little more maturity over the rest of the series.

Julie P. 6/5/09, 8:14 AM  

Great review. I'm wondering if Booking Daughter might be interested in this one!!! I agree w/ Meghan that since it's a series, maybe the author had to leave some room for the characters to grow and mature. And I've found that sometimes things don't make sense in the first book in a series, but come out later.

trish 6/5/09, 9:38 AM  

Thanks for your review, Beth! I know John Marco intended it for young adults (in the age range you specify) and for adults, but I know that's a tricky thing! I actually thought the first Harry Potter book was meh and a little young for an adult to be reading, but I think it developed nice, which you pointed out could happen with Starfinder.

Michele 6/5/09, 10:18 AM  

Glad you liked this one, Beth...I'll be reading it later in the month and am looking forward to it!

Margot 6/5/09, 10:51 AM  

I'm thinking of a special 10 year old who might like this. Thanks for the suggestion.

Ana S. 6/5/09, 10:59 AM  

I think we felt pretty much the same way about it. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it as much as some other readers. I wonder if reading fantasy regularly has to do with that? It takes more for worlds to still feel fresh after a while. I liked Calio more than the Land Beyond the Reach, and I look forward to the next volume - especially because the author said it'll be mostly set there!

Beth F 6/5/09, 11:11 AM  

Nymeth: Thanks for your comment. I also liked Calio better and I'm glad to know the next book will focus on life there.

Jenne 6/5/09, 11:22 AM  

Good review. I'll have to add it to by list of teen books to order. Thanks!

TexasRed 6/5/09, 1:48 PM  

Sounds interesting -- a little like the Anne McCaffrey Pern books. I'll check it out.

Robin M 6/5/09, 2:18 PM  

Sounds interesting. Will have to check it out.

Kailana 6/5/09, 4:14 PM  

I have this book to read, too, so I only skimmed your review. Hopefully I like it, too!

Literary Feline 6/6/09, 12:56 AM  

I enjoyed Starfinder quite a bit, but it does read more for a younger audience, I agree. I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with the series (and I want to read some of his older work).

Lenore Appelhans 6/7/09, 12:57 PM  

I am reading this soon (I swear!) and it sounds like one I can pass on to my goddaughter who is 11.

I saw a bunch of copies of this in the NYC Borders I went to.

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