ARC Review of Tracer by Rob Boffard (Awesome, action-packed sci-fi)
Review of Tracer by Rob Boffard
Blade Runner meets The 100.
IN SPACE. EVERY. SECOND. COUNTS.
Our planet is in ruins. Three hundred miles above its scarred surface orbits Outer Earth: a space station with a million souls on board. They are all that remain of the human race.
Riley is a tracer – a courier. For her, speed is everything. But with her latest cargo, she’s taken on more than she bargained for.
A chilling conspiracy connects them all.
The countdown has begun for Outer Earth – and for mankind
Action is one of my favourite parts of a book. I like reading a novel that feels like I’m watching a movie, but is also well-written, has solid characters and a gripping plot. Getting all of those things in a book isn’t easy. But Rob Boffard manages it in Tracer.
Tracers carry things from location to location on Outer Earth, a huge ship that carries all that remains of the human race. They’re like postmen, only sometimes the things they deliver aren’t exactly legal. Riley is a Tracer, and she ends of transporting one package that involves her in a vast conspiracy.
The idea of an action thriller set on a space-station is incentive enough to read this debut novel, but Boffard also packs in plenty of twists, some great characters and quality writing. The claim on the ARC cover that this is a ‘blockbuster’ is not an understatement. Rarely a chapter went by without a chase sequence or an explosion or some other gripping action set-piece. Each one is written tightly and the action never gets repetitive.
The narrative is divided into three voices, two of them third person, one (Riley) first person. Riley is the main character and she’s a tough, feisty heroine—somewhere between Katniss Everdeen and Deckard from Blade Runner. The villain is easy to hate—and there’s not just one. Boffard makes sure it’s hard to know who to trust and the tension from this is maintained all the way until the end.
The world-building is solid, even if it is a little bit vague at times. The ship itself, Outer Earth, is awesomely conceived, reminded me of movies like Event Horizon, Aliens and Blade Runner. Boffard makes the grit and dirt of the ship palpable, and it’s not difficult to imagine what life is like on board.
The writing is sharp and punchy, just like the pace. There’s description where there needs to be description and Boffard leaves it up to use to imagine things when that’s what’s needed. Sometimes sci-fi can be heavy on description, but Boffard strikes a good balance.
Like I said, this is a science-fiction, action thriller movie in book form. The pace is relentless (the definition of relentless) all the way to the twist-filled climax. The action comes thick and fast. The plot is gripping and twisty, and it’s hardly ever predictable.
This is the first in a series (not sure how many books), but it feels like a story in itself. There is something of a cliff-hanger, but it’s more an open ending. This is a satisfying read in its own right, but I’m looking forward to the sequel/s.
Some of the best action sci-fi I’ve read. Highly, highly recommended.
Tracer is released July 16th, and I can’t recommend looking out for it enough.
Thanks to Rob Boffard and Little Brown/Orbit for the review copy.