5/5 stars on Goodreads
|Honor among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre|
Occasionally Amazon manages to recommend a book that is spot on. Honor among Thieves grabbed me from the start and took me on a ride through stars. It’s a YA sci-fi by authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre set on near future earth. The earth has been saved by an alien race of sentient spaceships, and in return a hundred humans are selected every year on a trip around space inside them. It’s considered a huge honour to be selected, but when the protagonist, Zara, is chosen, she has other ideas.
Sentient spaceships that look like huge whales aren’t a new concept, and calling them Leviathan isn’t exactly innovative either. Giving the spaceship a personality, whether it’s an AI or other kind, is a well-used idea too. Still, there is something about Nadim, the ship Zara is assigned to, that makes him stand out as a person among the other characters.
Zara is a fairly typical YA heroine, ill-treated and angry. She starts as a thief living on streets, but she begins to heal on board of Nadim and grows to be a hero. She also turns out to be a veritable technical genius, which I found a bit far-fetched, considering she hadn’t studied much. But I could move past that.
At the heart of the story is the friendship and bond between Nadim and Zara. Both have suffered psychological trauma and abuse that gives them common ground and ability to understand each other even though they come from such different worlds. Reading the reviews, some found their bond creepy. YA readers are used to there being a love story at the heart of every book; the authors tease with this with an early character that turns out to be something completely different. They view the bond in romantic light and are repulsed by it. I’m not sure the bond between Zara and Nadim is romantic, although their connection is often described like two people falling in love, but I could be wrong.
The story is exciting too. It’s divided into four separate parts, each with its own arc that leads seamlessly to the next part. Stakes get gradually higher from one part to the next, until the great revelation at the end. The main cast of characters is fairly small, which is good, and none of them is solely black or white, not even the sentient ships. I’m not entirely sure how the title fits, as there are no other thieves than Zara, but the authors made a valiant effort to integrate it to the plot. The story ends at an exciting place and I definitely want to know what will happen next.