Book Review: Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Posted July 31, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Honor Bound by Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre
Genres: Science Fiction
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 19, 2019
Pages: 470
Format: eBook
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Daylighters, Kicking It: These Boots are Made for Stalking, Prince of Shadows, Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, Ash and Quill, Killman Creek, Honor Among Thieves, Smoke and Iron, Honor Lost

Second in The Honors science fiction series for Young Adult readers and revolving around all that’s left of the Leviathan fleet and their crews.

My Take

I do love this series. There’s a beautiful, giving, and deep friendship among Zara, Nadim, and Beatriz. It makes such a contrast with Typhon’s interactions with Marko and Chao-Xing. You’ll see how this changes as there’s a giant leap in Typhon’s character arc while Honor Bound advances the series arc a good bit. Whew.

It’s Zara’s character who represents the underlying theme of honor and courage, of doing what’s right. It’s a 180 from the life she led on earth, that’s for sure.

Nadim explains what fascinates Leviathan about humans, the way we analyze, our strength, our ability to survive, the flexibility of our thinking, but also how dangerous and violent we are…for little reason.

Those epigraphs at the start of the chapters can be terrifying with their humorous warnings, their bits of history. Starcurrent provides bits of back history that are fascinating and terrifying — and make me wonder why he didn’t speak up at the pyramid! As for the Indiana Jones scenes…whoa…

It’s tough for Nadim to be separated from his crew, and it does get a bit annoying as Nadim and Zara go on and on about it. Another major annoyance were assorted breaks in the story that made me think the story had ended. Just keep going.

There is a lot of action, a lot of introspection (especially on Zara’s part), and some truly fascinating characters — who will resonate with you as stereotypes of our own society (what can I say, we are alike). It’s full of laughter, worry, tension, and drama that gets even more interesting at the end when the Bruqvisz (the Big Lizards who sponsored Zara and Chao-Xing) want an alliance and a terrifying truth comes from Starcurrent!!

Caine-Aguirre use a first person dual protagonist point-of-view from the perspectives of Zara and Nadim, which provides an insight into the human and the Leviathan thought processes, how they mesh and how they differ. And yet, how they are the same. Have you ever noticed that? That people, no matter their race or religion have the same worries, concerns, and dreams as the rest of us? Even when Caine-Aguirre provide yet more proof that no matter how benevolent a species, greed is everywhere.

We also get set up for Honor Lost…and I have to wait some six months!!

The Story

Reeling from the massacre and the dark truth behind the Honors program, Nadim, Typhon, and their crews must find a refuge and starlight where the Leviathans can heal, where weapons and protection can be bought, where Yusuf’s life can be saved.

Luckily music is a commodity for all aliens, and Zara’s previous life in the Zone gives them an edge up. Beatriz’s voice and Zara’s and Chao-Xing’s entries into the Pit fights will help in unexpected ways.

The Characters

Zara Cole, a.k.a., Zeerakull, a petty criminal from earth, has already bonded with the young Leviathan Nadim as his pilot. Beatriz Teixeira is his starsinger. EMITU is an autodoc (and I want one!), which has been programmed for snark, lol. Zadim is their name when Zara and Nadim blend in a deep bond. When Beatriz and Starcurrent join Zara and Nadim, they become Starocean.

Typhon is an Elder Leviathan who has been badly wounded and holds himself aloof from his crew: Marko Dunajski and Zhang Chao-Xing, a.k.a., JongShowJing.

Honor Yusuf, who had bonded with Leviathan Artemisia, and Honor Starcurrent (a tentacled Abyin Dommas), who had bonded with zis Leviathan, are survivors of the attack in Honor Among Thieves, 1.

Abyin Dommas appear to be an old, old race with great strengths. They have nine genders and use neutral pronouns: zis and ze, which can make it weird to read. Greenheld is their homeworld, the heart of their civilization.

The Leviathan, a.k.a., Singers, are…
…a race of sentient alien ships, who saved the earth, navigating space just as whales navigate the oceans. In return, each year two Honors, young adults, are chosen, one as a starsinger and the other a pilot, to live within one of these ships. These Honors and their ship roam the universe on the Tour for one year, while the Leviathan matures, using starlight for healing and song for sustenance. If they perform well, they’ll be chosen for the longer Journey, and the Leviathan must bond with one of them. Dark sleep is almost like a coma, and Nadim is susceptible.

Leviathan Elders rule their race, keeping secrets. The Gathering is a group of Leviathans who make judgments.

The Sliver started…
…as Outpost 1473, one that has been taken over by various races over the years with its current owner, Bacia Annont, a formidable entity, providing a base for raiders, pirates, traders, and illegal and legal salvage operators. There are two tiers of currency: fita and datamynt.

The Bruqvisz look like big lizards, and they love to gamble. Suncross, Followshome, Ghostwalk, and Fairweather can be found at Pinky’s, a bar. Dr Henri Justineau had been an Honor rescued by Bruqvisz, who now ekes out a living as a lower tier medical. The incredibly crooked Mandy, a.k.a., Blobby, runs a junk booth. Other species on Sliver include Lumpyheads and Jellies. A VA is a virtual assistant.

The Phage are…
…a deadly enemy swarm that can strip a planet or ship of life within hours. Xyll is a captive Phage, a sentient individual. Flaff is an adequate nutrition source.

The godking, a.k.a., Lifekiller, has been entombed for centuries.

Back on earth
Zara had survived living in the Zone. Conde had been the fence with whom Zara had interacted. Derry McKinnon is Zara’s drug-addicted boyfriend who sold her; now he’s Deluca’s assistant. (Kashvi Baphna will partner up with Derry as an Honor replacement.) Torian Deluca is a major drug kingpin. Enzo had been, and Ashe is, one of Deluca’s men. There are rumors that Deluca’s daughter, Ivonne, will marry Prince Alexei of the Russian royal family.

Claudius Acorn is a WHSC coordinator with some dark, dirty secrets. HSC Sub-Administrator Olinski is completely against the decision to strip and replace Honors. Obari is a Nigerian pop idol. Kephana Washington and Saladin Al-Masih are hosts for Good Day, New Detroit.

An H2 is a combination tablet and communicator. The deep bond is a meshing of human and Leviathan. A Hopper is a shuttle. To dark run is to disappear.

The Cover and Title

The cover is darkly brilliant with its overlapping shapes of blues and greens with the black silhouette of the space outpost centered in the middle. All the text is white with an info blurb at the very top with the authors’ names below. The title is huge and spans the center across the station and the shapes. At the very bottom is an epigraph.

The title is where Zara and her friends are headed, Honor Bound to clean up their mess.

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