Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

by - 7:45:00 PM

Title: Zenith
Author: Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Pages: 534
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
Release Date: 16 January 2018
From Goodreads: "Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she's just Andi, their friend and fearless leader. But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder's all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi's past. Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two. Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted."
Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

Oh boy. Where do I even begin with this review? First off, I did not finish this book. It hurts to say that because this was a highly anticipated release for me, but I just couldn't do it. I really did try and got halfway through but after that, I just lost all desire to continue, unfortunately. The story didn't feel like it was going anywhere, I couldn't find it in me to care about any of the characters that were introduced, there were way too many points of view for me to even keep up, and I really did not enjoy the writing style. All in all, Zenith was an unfortunate fail for me and despite the fact that I did not finish it, I am going to review it because I'd like to share my thoughts on my reading experience. So, let's get to it!

I know this book has a plot, but I have to admit that it didn't really feel like it had one. I've read tons of reviews that state that Zenith has a very similar plot to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Now, I haven't read that book (or any other book by SJM, for that matter) but after reading the description of it, I can see the similarities. I have to admit that even the description of the main character made me picture the cover of Throne of Glass while I was reading. I also got some serious Six of Crows vibes from this while reading and...this is not Six of Crows or Throne of Glass in the slightest. But basically, the plot is as follows: Andi is hired to find the lost son of a general from her home planet and is given an ultimatum to basically either find him or die. Or maybe just go to prison forever? There's also a sub-plot involving the queen of another planet that is plotting her revenge to destroy the galaxy. Honestly, I had trouble following what was happening because there were so many different stories happening alongside the main plot. I wish it had just been about Andi and her crew taking on this mission, kicking butt and taking names all across the galaxy. I would have absolutely devoured this book if that had been the storyline! I went into Zenith thinking that was the plot and then was overwhelmed with all of the sub-plots and points of view which led to me ultimately putting the book down because I was just so confused. Maybe if there were less POV changes and more focus on just Andi and her crew (with Andi being the only point of view we read from) or the queen of Xen Ptera and the Marauder crew, then it would have been a better read for me. But it felt very disorganized and like there were far too many ideas trying to take center stage at the same time.

I mentioned this above but there were way too many points of view in this book. There was Andi, Valen, Lira, Dex, Nor Solis, and Klaren. Yes, that's right, there are six points of view in this book. If you've been around my blog for a while, you know that I am not a fan of multiple points of view in books. I get confused and just genuinely do not enjoy having to split my attention between multiple characters while I'm reading. I did have high hopes while reading thinking that maybe, possibly, I wouldn't get confused and would really enjoy the story and getting to read from different characters perspectives. Quite the opposite happened, unfortunately. For me, I feel that Zenith suffered from too many characters trying to tell too many stories all at once and it led to me getting frustrated because I just couldn't keep up with what was happening. It might have gone over better if I had connected to at least one of the characters while I was reading, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't find anything about any of the characters that I liked and I found myself just reading to get through it rather than reading to find out what happened to the characters that we were introduced to. I didn't care about any of the characters and felt like the inclusion of so many different viewpoints hurt rather than helped the story.

I think my biggest complaint about the characters involves who I think is considered the main character- Andi. We are told ad nauseam that Andi is known throughout the galaxy as the Bloody Baroness. Are you picturing a bloodthirsty fighter with zero remorse for all of the murders and crimes that she's committed? Because that's what I pictured, that's what I was hoping for. Instead, we got someone who marks all of the kills on her blade (blades? I literally cannot remember if she has one or two) and constantly thinks about the people that she's killed and how she's ruined the lives of their families. She's remorseful over everything she does and is not at all the ruthless killer you're made to believe that she is. If I'm reading about a character called the Bloody Baroness, I want a vicious character who kills with no remorse. I want her to kill and laugh while doing it. I want something from this supposedly terrifying character that you're trying to make me believe is actually terrifying. Andi as a character was a huge let down for me in a long list of letdowns that Zenith presented.

Also, I can't be the only one who thought of Liara from Mass Effect every single time Lira was on the page, right? That's...oddly coincidental.

One thing I will say that is a potential positive about this book is that I couldn't tell the difference between parts that Sasha wrote and parts that Lindsay wrote. That's not saying that I enjoyed the writing by any means because I, unfortunately, did not but the two did a pretty decent job blending their writing together. I did notice that there were times when the writing would shift from flowery and pretty to...well, not flowery and pretty. So maybe that was the difference in the two author's writing showing? Whatever it was, I just was not a fan of the writing overall in this book. I never found myself enjoying what I was reading but rather just reading to get through to the end- which I couldn't accomplish after all. Sometimes, even if I'm not enjoying the characters or a plot, the writing will be enough to help me push on and finish a book. That was not the case with Zenith no matter how hard I tried.

What I found most difficult to ignore was how the authors did a lot of telling and not a lot of showing, and the use of italics. If you think I have overused the italic button in this review, don't pick up Zenith. There are so many words throughout the book that are italicised for some reason as if the authors didn't trust their readers enough to put their own emphasis on certain words. That made me feel dumb and also slightly irritated me. Seriously, there are so many italicised words in this book. It drove me nuts and definitely contributed to me not finishing this book. As for the telling versus showing, there were so many scenes throughout that felt very unnecessary and filled with nothing but unimportant information that did nothing to move the plot along. There wasn't a lot of description but rather the authors telling the readers about things. We're not able to create the scene in our heads because we're told what's happening or are told the surroundings instead of given descriptions of things. So, long story short, the writing was a no-go for me, just like the rest of this book.

Now, I will say that I did actually enjoy the original 62-page story that was released in 2016 and I was incredibly excited to hear that it was being turned into a full book. But I think this just goes to show that reading tastes can change over time and that's not a bad thing! Maybe I'm just not in the right mindset to read Zenith at this time and I won't say that I'll never pick this up again and give it a second shot. I'd like to think that later in the year I'll revisit this book with a fresh mind and see what I think about it then. But, for now, this is a DNF for me.

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  1. Aw, that's too bad! But I think I saw people on Twitter talking about it and having the same opinions. Sometimes all the wait and the hype doesn't work out!