Chewing Up “The Renegade Star” by J. N. Chaney

jn chaney
Courtesy Mr. Chaney’s Facebook Page

Typically, you can get a decent feel for a new book from the first few lines. The Renegade Star begins:

‘”I’ll fucking kill you!” screamed William Emmerson as he ordered his security personnel to fire in my direction.

“Good luck with that!” I returned, running as fast as my feet would carry me.’

Now, I don’t know about you, dear reader, but this screams pedal to the metal to me.

Clearly inspired by Firefly, Chaney’s The Renegade Star is super charged action with intelligence to back it up. Spoilers abound.

renegade_star

THE SYNOPSIS

Jace Hughes is a Renegade by choice. He lives the life of an outlaw, taking what life gives him and then kicking life in the teeth. He’s a loner. He’s a flier. He’s a thief. And he owes some serious money to some serious people. When The Renegade Star begins, Hughes finds himself stealing trinkets to make a few credits to pay for a stolen cloaking device for his ship. Life being life, he then takes on a nun as a passenger to make a few more credits – and then the universe burps and asks for dessert, because that is when the chase really begins. The Union, the intergalactic government, wants the nun in chains. Oh, and Earth is just a myth.

WHAT WORKS

I’m not normally a fan of first person story telling, but Chaney really hits the ball out of the park with this. Jace’s personality and voice are clear – when most voices in a first person book aren’t. That is first.

Second, the best stories are the ones where the author throws the proverbial kitchen sink at the protagonist, and the protagonist stumbles but wins. Chaney knows this, uses it, and makes it work. I can “hear” distinct voices in the writing. Hughes doesn’t sound like Siggy (his A.I.), Abigail (“Abby” the nun), or Lex (the mysterious child). I read what they say, and I don’t even have to get to the part that goes, “said Abigail” to know that Abby the nun was speaking this whole time. That, dear reader, takes talent, and Chaney has it in spades.

I could go on and talk more about what works, but to be fair I don’t like spoiling things for others too much. Just a couple of points should suffice for the other standouts in the book:

  • The “sci” part of the “fi” in The Renegade Star isn’t the beat you over the head kind; it’s just right, and the “fi” really shines as a result
  • You don’t need backstory to understand what is happening, and you don’t need world building. You start on the go, and pick up anything you need to know
  • No made up words! “Nuns” and “bullets” and “tablets” and such you already know!
  • Fast and easy read – Kindle had my reading time at just under 3.5 hours. Not too shabby! Good for a Saturday afternoon at the park.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK

If there was any complaint I have, it’s that The Renegade Star relies too heavily on Firefly as inspiration, at times at the point of distraction. This is good for the casual fan, but a nerd like me, well, you would easily notice this. Thankfully, this is minimized in the rest of the series.

CONCLUSION

Book 1 of the series is a stellar (see that I did there?) success. There is no reason not to read this book. You can read it in light speed (I did it again) and it’s gravity (hehe) is well balanced with the humor. 

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