*Serious Face Review*

There are a lot of planets in the Solar League, and Solara Brooks is convinced there’s a better one for her than Earth. She’s a talented mechanic, but with no family to speak of and felony tattoos freshly inked across her knuckles, her chances of finding a job are nonexistent. Her only hope for a fresh start lies in the Outer Realm – planets beyond the reach of the Solar League and its Enforcers, where she’s been offered work as a mechanic and land to call her own.

But first she has to get there, and the only way she can afford the trip is to indenture herself to a wealthy passenger and work in exchange for a place aboard a starliner. Unfortunately, the only person willing to take her on is Doran Spaulding, the egotistical heir to the galaxy’s largest fuel company who has made Solara’s life miserable ever since she won a scholarship to his elite private academy.

Solara tries to make the arrangement work, cleaning up after Doran’s wild parties and pandering to his empty-headed, pink-haired girlfriend, but her obedience is uneasy at best. When she refuses to disclose the details of her felony, Doran snaps and tries to abandon her at a refueling port with no money and no hope for the future.

Desperate to avoid such a dead-end fate, Solara stuns him with a neurotoxin that scrambles his memory long enough for her to use his bottomless funds to secure them both passage aboard another ship and convince Doran that he is her indentured servant.

Their new home, the Banshee, is crewed by fugitives as full of secrets as Solara and Doran. There’s the hundred-year-old Captain Rossi, who has more mechanical body parts than fleshy ones. First mate Renny has sticky fingers and pockets anything not nailed down. Ship hands Cassia and Kane are constantly at each other’s throats; they fight like siblings but dodge questions about how they know each other.

When an arrest bulletin airs charging Doran with theft and conspiracy, he’s forced to lie low and keep up the charade. Pursuing a set of coordinates given to him by his father, Doran hopes whatever he finds there will clear his name.

“Starflight” is a fast-paced, fun read that is full of quick wit and nonstop action. Fans of the TV show “Firefly” should definitely pick it up; the Banshee’s mismatched, quirky crew and harebrained adventures are strongly reminiscent of the beloved sci-fi show. “Starflight” is also a stand-alone novel, a welcome change amidst the current Young Adult trend of leaving readers with cliffhanger endings.

Intergalactic shenanigans abound, with everything from bloodthirsty space pirates, a nosy sugar glider, glittering ball gowns and tattoos procured under the influence of mind-altering mushrooms. Blasting across the galaxy one step ahead of the Enforcers, pirates, and ruthless assassins, life aboard the Banshee makes Doran and Solara rethink how to define family and home.

Their relationship turns from disdain and hatred to friendship and love once they get past jealousy, the stifling constraints of social classes and the ghosts of the past. The histories of all the central characters are eventually divulged, giving the lovable cast of “Starflight” a well-rounded depth. Their world is full of starships, grit and glamour, but the motivating forces of love and family ring true. By the time the book reaches its satisfying conclusion, you’ll wish you could ship out with them.

Author: Melissa Landers