Starjacked
by Karin Shah, futuristic (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-386-9


It is 3175 AD, which means it is time for me to be grateful that this is an ebook where I can just copy and paste the names of the characters and places instead of trying to type them out manually. Our heroine is Tia Sen and our hero is Rork Al'Ren. And yet, while Rork may report to Grale Singre, the President of Like Whatever Really and his best friend from the planet of Rijya, Rork also names his spacecraft Courageous instead of C'ouragyx'oustllyxzy, so it's not as if simple mundane English names have been banned completely at that time, hmm.

The story is pretty simple. Tia moonlights as a pirate behind her father's back, freeing innocent slave kids and all. Meanwhile, Rork believes that those pirates killed his friend just like how pirates killed his wife and unborn child. As if he's not bitter enough, he gets beaten by one of Tia's crew when he tries to poke his nose where it doesn't belong, and you can bet he's not too grateful when she shows up to stop the beating. Many adventures follow as Tia tries to deal with her new slave during her space excursions while Rork plots and pouts the downfall of pirates everywhere.

Starjacked is actually a typical pirate fantasy masquerading as a futuristic romance, although in this case it is the hero who is the captive rather than the heroine. Still, they both play recognizable gender roles here. I don't know how Tia lasted a week as a savior of enslaved kids everywhere, since she is a typical soft-hearted and even naïve heroine who actually vomits violently and experiences painful heaves when she has to use a slave collar on another person. She also has a bizarre standard of sorts: she has no problem considering the idea of selling Rork off as a slave when she at the same time reacts so dramatically to the idea of coming in close contact with a slave collar. Rork is a more straightforward alpha male character - he's more consistent as a character than Tia, at the very least. Unlike Tia, he doesn't come off like a ten-year old girl playing at wanting to save the world.

Still, this could have been an enjoyable campy story if the author has tightened up her writing. The prose is rough around the edges - let's just say that I hope this is a debut effort because it sure reads like one. The pacing is uneven, the build-up towards the grand pinnacle of the story is patchy, and the love-hate romance is not believable. The author also tends to describe things in her stories using words that I find a trifle odd at times - a kick is described as "malicious", for example.

I am interested to see what this author can come up with when she has improved on her craft, but Starjacked is too unpolished and amateurish for me to recommend it to anyone.

Rating: 53


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