*Warning: This review may contain spoilers, read at your own risk*
Quick Synopsis: The story follows the Bloody Baroness, Androma Racella, and her crew aboard the Marauder. When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.
Part 1 of Zenith is the debut fiction writing for Sasha Alsberg, and another series on Lindsay Cummings’ – author of The Murder Complex – resume. Within a week, having only released 62 pages on the Kindle store, Part 1 of the Androma Saga became a New York Times Bestseller. Both women achieved their dreams, achieved a dream which I have myself, in just one week of releasing the first part of their serialised story. And it is very much deserved. Although, I did not get on well with Cummings’ The Murder Complex, when Sasha’s talent is added to the mix, their writing is fantastic. Simply put, I cannot wait to read the rest of this series, and here is the real reasons why.
Firstly, the characters. Zenith is written in a multi-strand narrative of third person perspectives. The narrative focuses on four characters, Androma, Dex, Valen and Nor. Androma Racella – aka Andi – is the main protagonist and an excellent one at that. While reading I often picture an aura, in place of a physical image of the character. This helps me visualise the settings more, thus gaging the atmosphere which helps me further immerse myself within the novel. When reading Androma’s segments I pictured an aura much like the one I picture for Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series. Coupled with the fact that Andi’s introduction features her preferred weapon, – a sword- alongside her being known throughout the Mirabel galaxy as the Bloody Baroness, there is a real air of one of my favourite literary characters, Adarlan’s Assassin.
Furthermore, Dex is introduced during an action packed scene. This is where the multi-strand perspectives shone the most, as the chapter alternated between characters. One section focused on Dex, revealing his intentions and his wider involvement within the story and universe. While the alternate sections focused on Andi and her crew, their personalities and reactions to the current situation and the element of teamwork, which I hope to see more of in the coming series. These sections presented the kick ass team of strong female characters that this series centres on. I cannot wait to further discover the connection between Andi and Dex, as the glimpse we are presented with only hints at a more expansive background, one which will surely be revealed as the series progresses. Dex is the typical, cocky, alpha male. However, I suspect we will get to see a warmer side to him as the story continues.
Valen and Nor, only feature in a singular chapter within the novel. The novel opens with Valen’s situation, in a scene that generates a claustrophobic and dark, almost hopeless, atmosphere, as the description does little to disconnect the character from his surroundings. The inner dialogue creates numerous questions in the mind of the reader, most of which are not answered in this part, but left for an interesting revelation later on in the series. Nor is presented as a ruthless dictator of Xen Ptera and the main antagonist of the series. She is set up in a later chapter within the novel and demonstrates the author’s desires to create a multitude of strong, independent female characters for the younger readers to look up to, alongside Androma and her crew – although, readers probably should not be taking life lessons from ruthless killers – these ladies’ personalities include traits that readers may find appealing and worthy of a role model.
Secondly, the story. Due to this being a serialised Saga, part 1 is not presented in the typical three stage narrative, however, it most likely will do once the series is completed. But right now we only see the beginning, the opening of a larger story that focuses on introducing the key characters, along with setting up the main conflict and the first stepping stone to developing the series.
That said, the story here is an interesting one which not only hints at the character back stories that will be revealed later on, but also contains an exciting conflict. The spaceship battle scene that takes up the majority of part 1 is full of engaging action, which continues into the following fight scene. Although this fight scene is engaging, it is lacking slightly as I found there is not enough description regarding the actual fighting style used and all the accompanying movement that would make the scene flow smoothly. This scene did not flow well, however, it is a short scene, so it did not distract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
Part 1 indicates a much larger universe that I hope will be explored further throughout the series. There is plenty of reference to past adventures and other locations, all of which impact the story in varying degrees. The ending of this part indicates that the characters will embark on an expansive adventure, one that will shed light on the planets and people within the Mirabel galaxy.
Thirdly, other mentionable comments.
- That one moment where the Marauder’s crew partake in a superhero-esque lineup, weapons out, ready to fight to the death together – the image generated here is an empowering one.
- Favourite line: “And Andi’s crew, a group of girls who had run from every hellish corner of the galaxy, were as sharp as Andi’s blades, the heart of the ship, and the three reasons that Andi had survived this long.”
- A Character I can’t wait to see more of: Lira. Although, I cannot wait to find out more about our main protagonists, Lira is the side character that I am most interested in. The pilot of the Marauder, Lira is a blue skinned alien that prefers melee fighting, even when the enemies have guns.
- Any improvements: The character Nor, or maybe just her name. Every time a sentence began with the character’s name I read it as “neither nor”, instead of Nor.
Overall, I adored this read. Although, there are small issues with the descriptive elements in one scene, for a debut fiction piece, it is quite an impressive one and any issues will most likely be ironed out over time. Lindsay and Sasha are clearly a force to be reckoned with. Their writing is on par with that of more experienced young adult authors as they have developed an engaging narrative that will have many readers on the edge of their seats, me included. I would give Zenith: The Androma Saga Part 1 a shiny 5/5 stars.
Thank you for reading this review. Go check out Zenith for yourself here and leave your opinions down below!
I avoided writing this review all week due to my unfortunate habit of reviewing books I adored while reading, then nit picking all the negative elements when it comes to reviewing. And I absolutely adored Part 1 of the Androma Saga, so the last thing I want my mind to do is search for any possible downfalls within this novel. If you are a reviewer, please tell me if you also have this habit, and how you get around it. It is a naughty habit which I wish to eradicate soon.