Monday, March 14, 2011

Deserter - the Kris Longknife series, Book 2

  1. Mutineer (May 22, 2009) – 3 out of 5
  2. Deserter (May 22, 2009) – 4.5 out of 5
  3. Defiant (May 22, 2009)
  4. Resolute (July 28, 2009)
  5. Audacious (July 28, 2009)
  6. Intrepid (July 28, 2009)
  7. Undaunted (October 27, 2009)
  8. Redoubtable (February 1, 2011)

Narrator: Dina Pearlman  – 3.5 out of 5 
Length: 14:02 hours, purchased on audible  

In Mutineer, summarized here, Kris Longknife proves that she is Navy in the 24th century and one of “those damned Longknifes” after she removes her maverick commanding officer, thereby stopping a war with Earth. Now, she is not only a 22-year-old daughter of the prime minister of the planet Wardhaven, but a “Princess” as she is the granddaughter of newly crowned King Ray, a legendary war hero who reluctantly took the newly created throne of the U.S. (United Sentients – about 80 planets) after the Society went belly-up at the end of The Mutineer

In the beginning of Deserter, for her heroic mutiny, Kris finds herself both promoted and shunned.  Sure, she saved Earth and stopped a war, but what Navy commander wants a subordinate with an insubordinate reputation?  Who wants a princess for an underling? Even her best friend and fellow Naval officer, Tommy, puts space between himself and trouble-prone Kris, taking a vacation without inviting her along.  No sooner does Tommy take off than he is kidnapped to the non-U.S. planet Turantic - a pawn to trap the princess. With a new side-kick governess from Earth, her sexy Secret Service body guard, and an improved personal pet computer, Kris must use her charms and her reputation to get herself and those she loves off Turantic alive.
"She almost smiled at that. Girl meets boy.
Girl invites boy into a world shaking conspiracy." 
Planet Traps & Booby Traps:
I swear, I wrote this review before I read the sequel. It's purely coincidental that Deserter seems to address everything I found lacking in Mutineer. In Mutineer, I found Nelly, Kris’s personal pet computer, to be not fantastic enough (probably a bit less powerful than the newest Android).  In Deserter, Nelly gets a major upgrade.  Nelly now docks into Kris’s head and talks with Kris mentally.  Nelly also starts developing a personality, one of a spoiled Justin Bieber fan.  In Mutineer, Kris seemed more a soldier than a 22-year-old chick.  In Deserter, with no military-appointed mission to follow, our heroine gets a lot more fem.  Thanks to Kris’s new governess, we have some serious wardrobe changes, clothes descriptions, and other womanly upgrades. Push-up bra? About time!

I had felt that Mutineer lacked cohesion – not Deserter.  This audiobook has a number of subplots, but they tie to together smoothly, and dip back to Mutineer, making the story flow easily from her arriving like a princess on Turantic via a Titanic-like luxury cruise ship to her going incognito as a poor Arabic boy with a limp in the midst of Turantic’s Islamic community. She seamlessly goes from a whore, to a maid, to a pregnant girl in a burqa. I also felt that Mutineer lacked the politicking I expected from a prime minister’s daughter.  There’s so much of it in Deserter: the royal “we,” the dressing up, the appearances.  Oh, and finally, things get sexier as well as more sophisticated.  There’s tension, there’s flirting – no sex, but it’s not really needed.  Also, I love the more-developed assisting character - Jack, the bodyguard, becomes a fixture in Kris's life, and Abigail becomes the Q to Kris’s Bond.  Hence the booby traps – actual falsies that turn into bombs.

On Narration:
I’ve reviewed Dina Pearlman’s reading of the Mutineer here. In Mutineer, I felt that Dina Pearlman did a great job with internal dialogue versus external dialogue. This becomes more important in Deserter since Nelly and Kris now talk both externally and in Kris’s mind.  On a textbook, that’s easy to figure out.  In an audiobook, it’s all Dina Pearlman’s skill.  I also enjoyed her treatment of the Arabic accents. The way she read the lines of Apu and his family was both humorous and solemn.

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