SPSFC2 Review of 'Traitor' by Krista D. Ball
Space stations and prisons are the back drop of what could be a Hero’s Journey.
This book didn’t loose it’s focus, which was refreshing. It had a storyline/throughline, and it stuck to it. The middle build wasn’t filled with fodder. Everything, and every character had a purpose in the story, to which I give kudos to the writer. I’m finding more and more books with their middle builds filled with inconsequential information (fodder) seemingly to boost their word counts, but this book kept it clean and presise. It made it an easy and fast read. Although it had its problems, I did want to keep reading.
The fundamental flaw that keeps me from ‘eagerly’ passing this book on this competition, is that the protagonist didn’t have an arc; they didn’t learn or change. The protagonist was the same unsure, confused character at end of the story as they were at the beginning.
On a good note, the action was good at the end, although a little confusing, especially when the ‘trickster’ characters were revealed. The story had a very good plot, and I liked the romance underneath, (but a little heavy handed for a non-romance book). Tech was interesting, but I would have liked to know more about Jupitor and how people were living there when it’s a Jovian gas giant and a juggernaut of gravitational immensity. Either it’s not plausible, or the science behind it, which wasn’t explained, would have been interesting to know about... Or perhaps, I missed something.
The history behind the Corps was a little vague as well, and how these ‘aliens’ were different, and what their real motives were. Which brings me to … Undefinded Antagonist.
I suspected the Corps were the antagonists, but that was not clear. They were kind of a ‘faceless’ entity that did bad things. It didn’t dive deep enough into their background. The Corps came across as almost as a ‘twist the moustache’ bad guy with only an evil side for the sake of evil. Perhaps more would be explained in further books in the series, but as a stand alone for a competition, it didn’t give me enough. Was the antagonist for this book in the series the guards that represented the Corps? The ex-girlfriend? The prisoners even? An overarching antagonist is needed for a series, but each book should also have a defined antagonist as well.
If the book wanted to rest in the ‘grey’ matter of good and evil, it didn’t quite succeed. A possible reason may have been that the protagonist was too wishy-washy. I didn’t know whether to root for her, or how to root for her? There were moments when she had ‘breakthroughs’ and acted bravely, but then she went right back to her old ways of self-deprecation. I understand this as part of mental illness (since she contemplated suicide several times), but unfortunately, for how it was written, it came across as a disconnect between the character’s motives and actions. I never knew what was going on with her, which created a disconnect betweeen me and the character.
So, although cleanly written, and with good pacing, this book stands on the ‘maybe’ list for now due to the lack of a protagonist arc and a lack of a defined antagonist.