Review of Starfall by Jessie Kwak

Cover art for Starfall

Starfall by Jessie Kwak (2016) is an exciting action and adventure novella set in a fascinating world of intrigue and organized crime in space. The Durga System, where the book takes place, is a system settled by refugees from Earth, and is home to all sorts of seedy underworld types as well as an overbearing government.

The book features two points of view—Starla Dusai, a deaf fifteen-year-old girl, and Willem Jaantzen, her crime lord godfather. With the scenes flipping back and forth between the two characters, this novella felt a bit like two interwoven short stories. Based on the cover art, I anticipated that the book would be more about Starla, but it’s really Willem who gets the lion’s share of the growth arc in this book, setting aside his vendetta in order to attempt to rescue his goddaughter from the government.

As someone who briefly studied American Sign Language, I really loved what Kwak did with the sign language in the novella. For example, Starla’s modified spacesuit gloves that allowed her to sign messages to her cousin, which came through as text on her cousin’s end, was fantastic—especially when the messages occasionally didn’t come through with 100 percent accuracy. The interactions between Starla and her interpreter while she’s in government custody were also great.

If you’re a fan of the Firefly series, you will likely find yourself right at home in the Durga System. The heroes go through all sorts of tough scrapes and make a lot of sacrifices in order to come through those scrapes. There’s already a second novella in this series available, too, so you won’t be stuck waiting too long for the next one!

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