Something was going to have to give somewhere.
Here we get into the meat of the story. I’ve been talking about transitioning from exposition to complication for the last couple chapters, and here we have it! The first thing Ky does here, is confront her crew about her plotting to not follow the letter of the mission – to go scrap the ship – but to find other ways to make ends meet, based on her plan to get Ag equipment for the local system. You can feel the awkward tension that Ky has when she approaches her crew, not knowing them well enough to make a determination on how they’ll react. It’s a marvelous piece of work in emotion, and then the payoff where the crew laughs and admits they had a betting pool on how long it would take her to do it was fabulous. Very human, very engaging.
They take off, following Ky’s plan. The trip is glossed over for the most part for the sake of pacing and we find ourselves on Sabine Prime. During this, we find out the ship is REALLY falling apart, adding a new tension almost immediately. Having the main character have to juggle her safety on top of the new trade mission to prove herself is what sets this apart from other books. And the conflict keeps coming from there. They can’t afford to do repairs and pick up the cargo. So they have to get a loan, and they have to deal with the Sabine government. We find out that the government is at war with another planet in the system, and it’s escalating, which is poses to create all sorts of problems later.
We get another brief comic respite of a couple paragraphs about her Auntie and her fruitcakes, drilling into us again that something important might happen there later. Flag this in the mind for later!
It sounds like almost too much to believe, having all this dropped on us at once, but it’s not. It’s about perfect. Ky is thrust into a situation where she has a lot of variables to deal with and most importantly there’s danger around every corner. The book has truly gotten exciting at this point, making it my favorite chapter so far.
Another high point is the cultural differences between this and the agriculture planet from the last chapter. There’s a couple quirky things like a spray for the air after you sneeze that gives the planet distinction and a real feel, even though it’s a silly thing. We humans do a lot of silly things and that’s why Ms. Moon’s writing comes off as authentic.