Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.
A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.
Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?
ARC provided by Albert Whitman & Company via NetGalley for an honest review.
This is a solid science fiction adventure that was a lot of fun to read. You really need to suspend disbelief that whole premise of a 17 year old being the dreaded notorious outlaw Ia Cocha, and that once she is caught she is sent to a military academy as her punishment, you are in for a really good story with some great female characters and a light romance.
The story starts off with Ia’s capture and even though there is some slight surprise that she is a seventeen year old girl, there is not a lot of comment or discussion about it. Then the next thing we know she is off to the military academy as her punishment. Hmm, not sure if that works for me, but if I can disregard that premise, it is a very good story. I ended up really liking Ia. She is smart, but can also hold her own in a fight. She is also compassionate and passionate about her cause. She doesn’t want to make friends with anyone at the academy, she doesn’t think she will be there long enough, but she does, and she comes to their aid when it is needed. The tentative friendship she develops with Brinn is very sweet.
I liked Brinn a lot more than Ia. She has a secret, which we know from the start, but she doesn’t want others to know. She is very bright, genius level even, and believes that her government is right and the rebels are wrong. Her story arc is the more interesting one. Learning the truth and changing her opinions about what she always thought was true was far more interesting. She also has compassion for others and has a slight crush on another student.
Knives, ok what is up with that name! It is not a nick name, but there is no other explanation for it. Maybe the next book. Knives is also a likable character. He is the youngest teacher at the academy, and he has a distrustful relationship with the military and refuses to fight for them, even though he is one of their best pilots. The slow burn relationship between him and Ia is also good. They both keep trying to deny their feelings, but you know how those things go.
Except for the shaky premise and the overly quick beginning and set up of the main plot, it is a really good story. It is fast paced for the most part, and there are some plot twists that kept things interesting. The space academy sounds like a cool place to go to school, and some of the more scientific things are kept simple enough to understand, but still complex enough to sound genuine. Lots of political intrigue towards the end, and probably that will continue into the next book.
This is a very well done book by this debut author. I would recommend this book to sci-fi fans and to those who want to expand into the science fiction genre.