cover image Polaris Rising

Polaris Rising

Jesse Mihalik. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-280238-5

The opener to Mihalik’s debut trilogy, a simplistic space opera with a side of erotica, starts far too slowly and fails to build dramatic tension even in its most frantic escape scenes, while both character and plot development lean toward the bland and stereotyped. Ada von Hasenberg, fifth child of one of the three High Houses of the Consortium, has spent two years running from her father’s forces in order to avoid a political marriage. As she eludes pursuit by her undesired betrothed, Richard Rockhurst, she finds an unlikely ally: fugitive Marcus Loch, considered one of the universe’s most dangerous criminals. After a bit of hopping planets, manipulating connections, and killing people who are in the way, Ada and Marcus end up with a stolen House Rockhurst ship with a new kind of faster-than-light travel technology, an understanding that the failure of Ada and Richard’s union means inter-House war, and a sexual connection too strong to ignore. Mihalik‘s storytelling leaves an impression of having checked off plot requirements and never draws readers into Ada’s world, leaving them bored well before the end. Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary. (Feb.)