Review: “Honor Among Thieves,” Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre

Pros: Very original and interesting! Wonderful characters!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre’s Honor Among Thieves (Honors Book One) is a wonderful sci-fi novel with fantastic worldbuilding. It’s the year 2142. 100 years earlier a race of sentient spaceships called Leviathan came seemingly out of nowhere to save the damaged ISS, and then proceeded to “fix” the Earth’s human-induced catastrophes. In return, each year people called “Honors” are chosen by the Leviathan to accompany them for a year. At the end of that year, the Leviathans pick several people who will permanently join the Leviathan on their Journeys–never to be seen again. Zara Cole is a bit of a renegade–she left the safety of the cities to live in the lawless Zone, surviving by thieving skills and cunning. One day she steals a purse from the wrong woman–the daughter of a mob boss–and has to turn herself in to the authorities in order to escape being killed. Just when it turns out that even the rehab facilities might not be safe enough, she’s chosen as an Honor. After intense training, she finds herself assigned to a Leviathan named Nadim together with Beatriz. She isn’t so sure that being confined on a sentient ship won’t be hell, but she desperately needs to get away from that crime family, so she doesn’t have much choice.

The worldbuilding is fascinating. I love the thread of the Leviathan and their mysterious “Journeys” that no one knows anything about. Nadim is sweet and a little naïve, so it’s easy to assume the Leviathan in general might be like that, until we meet elder Typhon, who is… not sweet. And not naïve. There are so many questions about other existing alien races, and the Leviathan, and so forth; as Zara starts to do the work she’s instructed to complete while aboard Nadim, she starts to wonder what all of these things she’s assembling are for. There’s something that seems like a weapon, for example. But no one’s had any indication, as far as she’s aware, that there might be a warlike aspect to the Leviathan. Thanks to Zara’s escapades in the Zone we also get a decent feel for the state Earth is in at the start of the book, even though it isn’t the focus of the story.

The relationships between Leviathan and Honor vary strongly as well. Zara and Beatriz become much closer to Nadim than he was to his previous Honors. I’m particularly thrilled to read a book where there are multiple female characters, they have a strong friendship without the rivalry stereotype, and–gasp!–they don’t talk about men at all, let alone make them the sole topic of conversation!

Probably my favorite part of the book is Zara’s evolving relationship with Nadim, as well as her evolving relationship with Beatriz. It’s beautiful and fascinating, and I can’t wait to read more.

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