Series: The Honors #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 13th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Source: the Publisher
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Honor Among Thieves, a science fiction novel brought to us by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, is a thrill ride from start to finish. Set in the not-so-distant future, the story follows teenage protagonist Zara Cole, a petty thief who is using her street smarts to survive on her own in New Detroit. New Detroit isn’t the most pleasant place to live. It’s actually quite seedy, but it offers Zara what she needs at this point in her life, freedom to live on her own terms and make her own decisions. Zara has a family—in fact, she could be living with her mother and sister on a wonderful colony on Mars. Zara’s past, however, has been filled with pain – pain she has experienced at the hands of an abusive father, and then the pain she feels that she has caused her mother and sister. She decides that they would be better off making a fresh start without her causing them further pain, and so this is how she finds herself alone in New Detroit.
Zara is doing just fine for herself, stealing as she needs to and pawning what she steals for cash. That is, until she steals from the wrong person – the daughter of Mr. Deluca, the most powerful man around – and finds herself on the run as Mr. Deluca makes it his mission to take Zara down. Zara faces jail or even death, but in a surprise twist of fate, she finds herself being chosen to become an Honor instead.
The Honors is an elite team of humans who are chosen by the Leviathan. The Leviathan are a race of what I would say are actual living space ships. They can be piloted and lived in like space ships, but they can also think, communicate, and feel emotions. Ever since the Leviathan stepped in and saved Earth from destroying itself, the Leviathan and the humans have had a symbiotic relationship. Every year the Leviathan select 100 humans who will become passengers aboard the living ships and explore the outer reaches of the universe. Usually those chosen to be Honors are scientists, musicians, and other scholarly types. No one from Zara’s community has ever been chosen to be an Honor, so it comes as quite a shock to Zara, who is immediately suspicious as to their motives but agrees to take part because ‘Hey it’s better than jail or death, right?’
What surprises Zara right away is how almost as soon as she meets Nadim, the living ship she will be traveling on, she immediately feels at home for the first time ever. More comfortable than she ever felt in her own home growing up. She actually begins to look forward to spending a year traveling with Nadim; that is, until she realizes there’s more to this journey she is on than meets the eye. Behind the allure of the elite Honors program, things are much darker and more dangerous than Zara had anticipated. Between that and the other dark truths of the universe that she begins to see while on her journey, Zara realizes she might be in as much danger here as she was back on earth.
Can her street smarts help her here or is Zara in completely over her head?
Zara was definitely my favorite part of Honor Among Thieves. I loved her spunk and her street smarts. She is tough as nails and it’s easy to cheer her on, especially as she takes on the underdog role, both against Deluca and then again as a thief among Honors (Side note: I loved that little play on words with the title). As much as I enjoyed the action in the story, it’s actually Zara’s development as a character that really drew me in and kept me reading. She is so closed off and mistrusting of everyone around her when the story opens, but once she gets on that ship and starts to bond both with Nadim and with Beatrice, her fellow Honor, she becomes almost a completely different person. She’s so much more open and trusting and her compassionate side just really comes out when it comes to protecting and defending those she cares about. I liked Zara when the story began, but I absolutely adored her by the end.
Nadim. Okay, I’ll admit the whole idea of a living ship kind of weirded me out at first. The image I have in my head is along the lines of Jonah and the Whale but the Whale is actually a space ship. The whole concept was just so wild. Once I got used to it though, I loved it, especially Zara’s ship, Nadim. Almost as soon as she boards the ship, Zara learns that some of Nadim’s previous missions haven’t gone very well and that if his mission with Zara goes badly, he will be banished to live alone in space. What I really liked about Nadim was that even though he is this massive space ship, he still has this vulnerable, almost childlike quality about him, and like Zara, I found myself feeling very protective of him.
The Action. Between the actual mission itself and then all of the underlying, unexpected drama, this is one action-packed book. In a lot of ways, this aspect of it reminded me of Illuminae with its breakneck pace and with the way it becomes a survival story. The last half of the book goes by especially fast because there’s so much drama and suspense. If you like action, aliens, space battles, and conspiracies, you’d be in for a treat with this book.
The only aspect of Honor Among Thieves that I had trouble with is what was referred to as ‘Deep Bonding’ between a Leviathan and a human. Zara and Nadim engage in this ‘deep bond’ at one point and I don’t know if it was supposed to come across this way, or if I just read more into it than I should have, but it had an almost sexual vibe to me. I was all for the idea of Zara and Nadim in a non-sexual, soulmate kind of way, but that one section just made for an awkward read for me.
Honor Among Thieves is the start of what is sure to be wonderful new series. I hadn’t read anything by either Rachel Caine or Ann Aguirre prior to reading this story, but they are both on my watch list now. If you’re into spunky, street smart heroines, space exploration, and are intrigued by the idea of living space ships, be sure to check out Honor Among Thieves. You won’t be disappointed!
Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.
Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.
Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.