Reviews, Young Adult

Zenith – Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Title: Zenith

Author: Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Format: ARC paperback, 511 pages
ISBN: 9780008228330
Rating: 2 Stars

Zenith was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I’ve watched Sasha’s booktube videos on and off for several years now, and whilst I had some wariness towards the quality of this book going into it, I really wanted to enjoy and love it. Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t really the case, and I actually had to force myself to finish the book.

Here is the description, courtesy of the book blurb because I actually suck at summarising books!

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Marauder, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a powerful bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.

I have a lot of problems with Zenith. One of these is the length. I read an ARC copy that is 511 pages long, and whilst that’s not a super massive book, when not much is going on plot wise it made it difficult for me to want to finish.

I started reading Zenith in November last year, and didn’t finish it until this week. At first I thought it was me, because a lot was going on in the first few pages and at the time I was reading this I was incredibly exhausted. So many characters are introduced and talked about in the first section of the book, and I found it a little difficult to keep track of them all. Add to this trying to wrap my head around the solar system and planets that have been created for this world, and a constant shift in perspectives – it seemed easier to put the book down and come back to it later when I was less tired.

Now that I have finally finished Zenith, I can say that it definitely was not me. This book was just boring. So much of this story was irrelevant, and easily could have been cut out. I struggled to care with what was going on, and by the end I just wanted it to be over.

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Part of the problem was that it was told in six (I think?) different perspectives. None of these characters were particularly interesting, and I definitely think it should have been restricted to just Andi and maybe Dex’s perspectives. I also found that the distribution of perspectives was uneven – Andi by far had the most, and even her chapters seemed longer than some of the others. It made it difficult to want to read or care about the other character’s perspectives when I knew they were going to be only a handful of pages long.

The characters of this book could have been the saviour of this novel, but rather they added to my disappointment. Andi, or The Bloody Baroness, was made out to be this awesome, kick-ass, sassy, amazing, god-like character. I’ve seen many reviews describe her as a not-as-great combination of Kaz from Six of Crows and Celaena from Throne of Glass, and I must say I completely agree. We were told so much about how badass The Bloody Baroness was, but I never really felt like we got to see her be this badass character. At one stage Andi was described as “death incarnate” and I immediately rolled my eyes and sent a photo of the sentence to Emily so we could laugh about how stupid it sounded.

As for the rest of the characters, I simply didn’t care. With the exception of one, the other girls on the spaceship crew really didn’t serve much of a purpose. Although Lira was fleshed out a bit more and given a backstory, one of her physical descriptions is that she has scales, and it took me over half of the book to realise this. These scales can change colour and temperatures depending on her moods, and I still didn’t pick up on it until the halfway mark.

Another of the girls, Breck (I think?), was towards the end described as a giantess. This was another physical description that I simply failed to pick up on in the start, and in fact, when going back to see when she was first introduced, she was only described as “a tall, broad-shouldered girl” who had to duck her head so as not to hit it when walking through doorways. That is definitely not clear to me that she was supposed to be SUPER tall…

The writing was also just not the greatest and I always felt that they were trying too hard for their book to be this epic space story. There were a lot of inconsistencies, and a lot of repetition. I said earlier about Andi being described as “death incarnate” … incarnate was then used at least another three times throughout the book to describe something else. It just seems so melodramatic, and every time I read it I was cringing on the inside. Another thing I picked up on – especially in the second half of the book – was that paint descriptions were used A LOT. I think in one chapter alone there were three or four separate mentions, and I just was so sick of it by the end of the book. I know that Sasha paints, so I’m thinking they could have been her sections maybe? Whilst the first time it was used I thought it was nice, the amount of repetition on that as a description was just too damn high.

I also never fully understood the world. This could be partly because I read 50 pages of the book, put it down for a month, read another 50 pages of the book, put it down for two months, and then finally returned to it. The politics just seemed downright boring to me, and whilst I appreciate they were trying to not info dump on this world they created, I found it more frustrating when they would use their made-up words with no explanation as to what they meant. I kind of feel like they were going for a world similar to Star Wars (providing an explanation as to why some of the characters had alienish features) but it just didn’t sit well with me.

I wish I could say that the plot had some semblance of being interesting, but it really was not the case. This book was filled with random subplots that didn’t add anything to the story, and just made it more of a struggle to finish. Elements of the plot also just seemed so implausible to me. Like at the end there’s some fancy ball thing happening, and the General decides that rather than giving Andi, Dex and the crew what he promised in exchange for them rescuing his son, he instead says the deal isn’t over and that he wants Andi and the crew to be guards to his son at this ball. This is a General who has trained personnel for this specific reason, but instead he wants Andi, the girl who essentially was banished from the planet to do it instead, even though everyone attending this ball knows her as a fugitive… what? Also, just the fact that a ball occurred and the characters got a makeover and pretty dress scene made me feel like they were trying to chuck as many YA elements into this book as they could.

There is also one part at the end of this book that made me think so much of Divergent. This would be a major spoiler, so I’m not going to go into too much detail on it, but I definitely felt that this one thing that happened was a slightly different version of something that happens in Divergent.

Whilst I appreciate that Sasha and Lindsay have put a lot of effort into this book, it just was not for me. I think this had the potential to be better than it was, but it needed a much cleaner edit done. I really wish I could have loved this as much as I had hoped to, but alas that is not the case.

Have you read Zenith? If so let me know in the comments what your opinions are. I would love to hear them!

Until next time,
Tanaya

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