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Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Title: Outpost
Series: Donovan #1
Author: W. Michael Gear
Genre: Science Fantasy
Publisher: DAW/Penguin
Format: eBook
ISBN: 9781529370461

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Summary

Donovan: A world of remarkable wealth, habitable, with a breathable atmosphere, water, and a salubrious climate. Call it a dream come true. A dream? Or a nightmare? Donovan’s wealth comes at a price. For Donovan lies thirty light years away–a two-year journey that few survive.

When Turalon arrives in orbit, Supervisor Kalico Aguila discovers a failing colony, it’s government overthrown, and the few colonists left now gone wild. For Kalico, Donovan offers the chance of a lifetime: one desperate spin of the wheel that will leave her the most powerful woman in the solar system. Or dead.

Planetside, Talina Perez is one the three rulers of Port Authority–the only remnant of a town on Donovan. She’s the only law left, and now a Corporate ship has appeared in orbit and is demaning answers about things she’s done in the name of survival. Perez is about to lose everything, including her life, when Kalico lands with her Marines.

For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he can’t wait to set foot on Port Authority. He will make one desperate play to grab a piece of the action. No matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy.

Captain Max Taggart has been The Corporation’s “go to” guy when it comes to brutal enforcement. As the situation in Port Authority deteriorates, he’ll be faced with committing mass murder in order to dominate the wild Donovanians. Only Talina Perez stands in his way. Or. God forbid, is he getting squeamish in his old age?

Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that forewarns any ship from making the return journey to Solar System.

Does anyone dare space back on Turlon with her wealth of ore, ceramic, gems, and gold? Or do they take their chances on a deadly planet that kills three out of four colonists?

And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. One whose secrets are hidden in Talia Perez’s very blood. A game which will change everything, forever.

Content warnings : death, gore, and mild sexual content.

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My Review

Narrative style: third personPerspective(s): multiple

First Impressions

WOW!

I mean… how often do you read a book that completely blows you away. No book has done this since I first read Ivan Cat, and now this Story (well, the whole series) is cozied up right there in the number one spot.

I’m pretty liberal with giving stories 5-stars because I can see the beauty and how it will affect others. But it is rare I find a story that has me so thoroughly obsessed that I’m thinking about adding a new rating called “Flock of Crows” with the rating IS PART OF MY SOUL NOW.

What I Loved About Outpost

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m just gonna fan-ramble.

When still on the first pages of this story, I was already obsessed. It starts right in the middle of a hunt, and the tension is palpable, all while creating an air of mystery and intrigue about the world and the creature Talia Perez is stalking.

This moment is so important, and even after book 5 those first chapters hold a wealth of meaning for all the people on Donovan.

And not just them… but for the local sentients as well. This hunt and it’s meaning continue to resonate all the way through every life form on the planet in large and small ways and it’s just gorgeous.

For the characters, I loved every one of them. Each one had their own goals, their own strengths and weaknesses, and in the case of Dan Wirth, a creep factor that put all the needles in the read.

But there is a rare beauty that weaves between Talina and Kalico. These two powerhouse women take center stage on the scale that balances the height of corporate greed and the gritty, everyday circus of survival.

Death is everywhere, and the grief and hope woven into this story makes it one of the most gorgeous and heartbreaking I’ve read in years.

But then there’s the quetzels. Native inhabitants of this planet, they are everything that is nothing like Earth-bound animals. From their physionomy to their logic, they are as alien to humans as a species can get, and yet I’ve fallen in love with every one of these creatures.

Controversy & Conflicted Thoughts

One of the moments in this story that stood out to me is what happens to Allison. You talk about a woman who has been shat on by life, and before she has a chance to really grieve or recover, she is locked in a box so many women are familiar with.

A relationship based on manipulation and outcome.

Women in many stories are often devalued in a variety of ways. From rape to murder to locked at home with a bunch of screaming kids while their men go out to play war.

This reflects so much of our modern society and how women are used as breeders, subservients, caretakers, and yet for all the boxes we’re shoved into, our basic rights are often limited while we’re blamed for things we have no hand in.

In this story Allison becomes the embodiment of this kind of behavior. However, Gear does it so beautifully.

He shows her tragedies all stacked together and the motivations behind the man who targets her. As a woman (and a past target to these behaviors), these were some very squeamish and raw moments for me. Yet, as the series continued past the first book, Allison slowly comes to the realization of what she’s become, she finds her inner strength, and slowly she begins to turn into a lethal powerhouse woman like Talina and Kalico.

So while Allison’s character is a little rough to digest in the first book, I’d encourage readers to continue on if they loved the story. It’s so worth it to see her growth and how she emerges from the ashes of her old life into a phoenix.

Overall

This book is STELLAR. If you want alien worlds, alient creatures, claustraphobic tension, gritty and lovable characters, derelict starships filled with bones and ghosts, and a collision of corporate greed against basic survival…. this story is for you. Read it. Read it now so I can scream about it some more.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out other reviews from the Valkyries at Bookish Valhalla

All Bookish Valhalla Reviews
K. J. Harrowick's Reviews

Reviewer Bio

K.J Harrowick Author Pic

K. J. Harrowick is a freelance developer, graphic designer, technical coach, and author of the science fantasy novel, Bloodflower. You can find her reviews on Goodreads, Hàlon Chronicles, Bookish Valhalla, and occasionally Amazon and Book Sirens.

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