4 out of 4 stars
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Clevon Demarco just wants to get off of Capital Station. Having spent his life trying to survive as a thug for the various gangs on the station, he is willing to risk it all to escape. Demarco enters a death match to obtain the credits he needs to buy passage to a planet. Even though his genetic enhancements enable him to quickly win the battle, things immediately go wrong as he attempts to secure passage off of the space station. Demarco finds himself detained on an enforcer starship called The Star Marque. When Captain Endellion offers him a full pardon for his crimes in exchange for joining the crew, Demarco quickly accepts the offer and proves himself a valuable addition. Despite Demarco’s anti-hero stance at the beginning, he quickly finds himself inspired by Captain Endellion’s dreams and the challenges she presents to him. As Demarco grows in confidence and becomes one of Captain Endellion’s right-hands, he discovers that her methods and dreams may be darker than he originally thought.
Shami Stovall’s Star Marque Rising provided much more than I expected. Her three-dimensional characters captured my interest as they showed growth throughout the novel. While Demarco narrates the book in the first-person, the secondary characters prove to be almost as interesting as the main character. Each character has flaws and a history, which get shared with Demarco and the reader at exactly the right time to provide the most impact on the story.
Demarco particularly captured my interest with his rather mercenary self-view. In contrast, he shows time and again with his actions that he has more compassion and leadership ability than he admits even to himself. I loved the way Stovall allows him to grow and eventually see his value as both a person and a leader. She even allows him to wrestle with some deep philosophical and ethical questions about free-will and what it means to be a leader.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there are elements that make it inappropriate for some readers. There is a significant amount of strong language, though it seemed appropriate for the characters when used. Additionally, sex is treated casually; one character even calls Demarco a “horn dog” for his willingness to bed anyone, male or female. Despite his willingness, there are relatively few sex scenes, and those that do appear are more suggested instead of detailed. This book also contains a fair amount of violence, but again, it is not graphically detailed to readers. Still, I would only recommend this book to mature readers that are not easily offended by these elements.
Overall, I give Star Marque Rising 4 out of 4 stars. This book is extremely well written and edited. Plot elements work together to create a complete, engaging storyline. Characters grow and mature, making it enjoyable to read about them. The world building that went into the novel shows that the author has taken her time to be consistent and create an incredible world to explore. Even though this is the first book of a series, I felt satisfied with its ending. Stovall completed this plotline while still leaving the door open for more adventures with these characters. I highly recommend this book to fans of space opera and space travel adventures, especially those that enjoy a good caper in this genre.
Star Marque Rising
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