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Daros by Dave Dobson
Above the planet Daros, aliens show up and destroy everything in sight, just as Brecca Vereen was unloading some cargo. Meanwhile, one of the aliens struggles to make her way in a society that doesn’t lend itself to disagreement. What did the aliens come to destroy? Is there more going on in space than meets the eye? Can our mains survive?
Dobson weaves together different viewpoints into an interesting story that continues to peel back layers as the story goes on. At its core, the plot seems to be a somewhat straightforward space adventure in which Vereen is struggling to survive in a hostile environment. Dobson, however, rations reveals about the plot and wider universe in a steady flow that keeps readers invested throughout the novel. It’s fun to see how the characters’ actions and discoveries end up having much wider consequences in real time, even as their actions don’t necessarily seem to be so important. It’s hard to get beyond these vague ways of describing it because I don’t want to spoil the big reveals. They are very big, and they make the novel feel like a much more consequential story.
Dobson also writes our main characters well. I was deeply into the stories of Brecca and Navigator Frim. Frim’s character helps reveal more and more of the alien society to which she belongs, while Brecca largely gives us big reveals and even some humor.
Humor in speculative fiction always makes me a little leery, to be honest. There’s an indistinct line between a novel “having humor” and being a comedic read. The blurry gray area in between is difficult to navigate and can, in my opinion, sink the enjoyment of a read if it goes too far or not far enough. In Daros, however, the humor contextually all makes sense and doesn’t take over the plot. I loved the occasional fun in chapter titles, as well, such as “Of Course There’s a Scene with a Ventilation Shaft.” Little in-jokes like this are done tastefully and throughout the novel in a way that makes the whole thing fun to read even when it’s especially intense.
I was provided an audiobook copy by the author, and I’m happy to share the narrator, Jennifer Pratt, does a fabulous job. She even has a unique way of doing the voice for a certain spoiler-y character. I recommend the audiobook to those interested in reading that way!
Daros is a great read for fans of space adventures. It’s got humor, solid characters, interesting aliens, and big reveals. It’s a joyful, fun read.
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