I keep my book review ratings simple—they’re either required, recommended, recommended with qualifications, or not recommended. If you want the TL;DR, this is it:
Recommended: Sometimes you just need “popcorn”—and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s first novel is exactly that. (Just… pardon the frequent POV switches.)
At my friend Stephen’s recommendation (“a surprisingly fun sci-fi adventure romp. Lots of romantic tension, surprisingly chaste (and pretty satisfying) payoff [with] some of the coolest, most interesting protagonist aliens I’ve read about in a long time”) I picked up Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Agent of Change,1 and I quite enjoyed it.
Sometimes, in the midst of hammering away at work and dealing with the tumult of moving into a new house, it’s nice to grab the literary equivalent of a bag of chips or a bowl of popcorn. This is that. There was nothing in this book that was anything like as interesting or engaging as sci-fi can be—but it was, in Stephen’s words, an adventure romp, and that was perfect. The characters are fun, well-drawn if never particularly surprising. The plot is essentially an escape story (and in more ways than it first appears).
The only real problem on display with the book is that it completely disregards anything like modern conventions around point-of-view. A paragraph break is sufficient for a total change of internal perspective. This drove me crazy the entire book.
Might I read another entry in this universe, the next time I’m looking for merely a romp? Indeed I might.
Agent of Change is the first book in their Liaden series. It’s also listed as anything but the first book, because republication and branding have dropped it at its chronological position in their larger universe… but book nine it is not, whatever Amazon tells you.↩