REVIEW: The Finder by Suzanne Palmer

This post originally appeared on Around the World in 80 Books.

3 out of 5 stars   ★★★☆☆

DAW, April 2, 2019
Synopsis:

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He’ll slip in, decode the ship’s compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a gas-giant-harvesting colony called Cernee. But Fergus’ arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger’s enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly–and inconveniently–invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he’s called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll just preface this review by saying that I don’t read a lot of sci-fi. So my depth of knowledge and reading analysis might be a bit limited in this review, but now at least you’ll understand why I say that the first five chapters were boring to me. I couldn’t get into the narrative at all. It was like pulling teeth. I requested the book because it has a super cool premise, but as I was reading the first few chapters, I was wondering over and over why I picked this. I was literally about to pull the plug and move on with another book when I saw a review from B&N that was GLOWING. What was I missing?!

Turns out that the action doesn’t really start until chapter 5 (IMHO), but I’m a bit concerned about that statement because literally the first chapter is our main character getting his transportation blown up. There was a detachment in the writing that took me out of the action. Luckily, I was able to find my way back into the book because it gets action-packed very quickly.

Fergus is an interesting character in that he’s lived a adventurous life. He was born on Earth, specifically Scotland, runs away to Mars and starts an uprising against the colonial authority, then runs away from his problems after that (aka guilt) and becomes a repo man. In this case, he’s tasked with stealing back a ship that was stolen by a gang leader. Turns out that Furgus’ timing is impeccable in everything he does because in the process of stealing back the ship he also finds himself in the middle of a civil war among the various factions of Cernee. Fergus always chooses the right answer. He should have died at multiple points, but he always chose to align himself with the right people or make the best choice at the last minute that saves himself and others. Is he a Marty-Sue (Mary-Sue) character? Hard to define for me, but everything just seemed to work out for him, which I did not find endearing.

Cernee is an interesting place in the galaxy. From what I understood, it wasn’t exactly a planet, more like an interconnected set of tubes and tech where people lived. Maybe some sort of rock formation, but definitely not planet sized. Wish there was a diagram or map in my ARC! The first people we meet are a family of clones, who are very private within the colony. The fact that they are living beings is in itself a threat to some of those who live in the galaxy and within the colony. There is also the overarching Authority, and a couple of other factions that live and generally get along with each other. It’s a small community, but somehow once Fergus gets there he stirs up a bubbling rivalry between factions.

Cernee is also a host to a bunch of interesting side characters. As I was reading, I was simultaneously more interested in them than I was Fergus, and yet, also wanting more from them, such as Mari (a clone), and a faction leader named Harcourt. There was a point where they decided they needed to go to Mars to rescue Harcourt’s daughter, but when the threat was issued against this person’s safety, I didn’t think it was a credible threat, yet the characters acted like it was. It just seems like it was something to make them leave the planet, but as I was reading I wondered about these characters motivations. They were rescuing someone that was not mentioned before and had no connection to Fergus or the action. It was frustrating.

Overall, I did like the book. I would recommend it to sci-fi fans, I just wanted more out of it. I wanted a sense of urgency from Fergus’s perspective, especially with the alien Aiisig threat, which I think would have placed the reader directly in the action, rather than removed from it. I also wanted to understand more of the reasoning behind certain decisions. That being said, the action is fun and I did enjoy the scenes where everything is going wrong, but turns out OK in the end.

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