Review: Starhawk by Jack McDevitt

November 5, 2013 4.5 stars, Book Review 11 ★★★★½


Priscilla Hutchins has been through many experiences.
This is the story of her first unforgettable adventure…

Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins has finally realized her lifelong dream: She’s completed a nerve-bending qualification flight for a pilot’s license.

Her timing is far from optimal, however. Faster-than-light travel has only recently become a reality, and the World Space Authority is still learning how to manage long-range missions safely. To make matters worse, efforts to prepare two planets for colonization are killing off native life-forms, outraging people on Earth.

So there’s not a lot of demand for space pilots. Priscilla thinks her career may be over before it has begun. But her ambition won’t be denied, and soon she is on the bridge of an interstellar ship, working for the corporation that is responsible for the terraforming.

Her working conditions include bomb threats, sabotage, clashes with her employers—and a mission to a world, adrift between the stars, that harbors a life-form unlike anything humanity has ever seen. Ultimately, she will be part of a life-and-death struggle that will test both her capabilities and her character…

​​​​​​In Starhawk, we can see what very well may be our near future. The space race has paved the way to global cooperation in the form of a space station in orbit around earth and we are capable of interstellar space travel to worlds far beyond our own. Other planets have been discovered with life and we have made contact with other sentient races. Unfortunately, advances in technology have not given us the answers to our ever present problems of over population, pollution and dwindling natural resources. Because of this corporations have turned their eyes to other planets in the hopes that terraforming another world similar to our own will be the answer to these issues.

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Priscilla’s Journal
I couldn’t help thinking about all those old science-fiction stories from the early years of the space age. There were always aliens showing up who wanted to kill everybody and take over the world. Turns out maybe, we are the aliens. -June 17, 2195 – pg 5
This story takes off like a shot in these first few chapters, introducing us to the two main characters Priscilla Hutchins and Captain Jake Loomis. Jake is doing a flight assessment on Priscilla to see if she is ready to be an interstellar pilot. They encounter several crisis on this test flight, one which could change the future of the space program and another which could mean life or death. When it is over neither one of them will ever be the same.
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He’d been tested and found wanting. And he’d have to live with it. – pg 97
In the first 100 pages I was literally unable to put the book down I was so caught up in the tension of each scenario they were thrown into. However, things slow down considerably for the following 200 pages before they pick back up again in the last fourth of the book. I would have to say during the middle portion you see a lot about the state of the world, politics, and how society is reacting to the terraforming of another world that may kill of many of the species on that planet. There are frequent “newsdesk” snippets through the entire book, usually at the end of chapters, where you get to see news headlines. These help give you a feel of what is going on in our future world, in the same way reading all of the top headlines of today would give you a feel for all the current events. I found these to be fascinating and really helped me feel like I really was living in our future.

Starhawk is a fascinating story with exceptionally well written characters and extremely believable world building. It is very much a novel of exploration, not only of space but of your own beliefs, going after what you want in life, and fighting for what you believe in, no matter the cost. In many ways the characters Jack McDevitt writes are inspirations – true role models in their world and our own. They are what some heroes in other novels can only aspire to be. If you are a fan of science fiction, or space opera, or even if you’ve never read a sf novel before Starhawk would be an excellent place to start.


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• A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes come from the advanced reader edition and are subject to change upon publication. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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11 Responses to “Review: Starhawk by Jack McDevitt”

  1. Nathan (@ReviewBarn)

    I think I played Starhawk on my old PlayStation in high school. *rimshot*
    Seriously though, I don’t see a lot of sci-fi that deals with early stages of travel technology. Just on that front the book looks interesting. I could probably read a whole novel just based around testing the technology if it was in the hands of a skilled author.
    *Sigh* After reading no new sci fi for a a year i find more and more of it that stands out.
    Nathan (@ReviewBarn) recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘Heartwood’ by Freya RobertsonMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      You haven’t read any SF for a year? I’m surprised! I definitely lean heavily towards fantasy but I’m enjoying more and more SF lately. Before I would only dabble here and there. I am looking forward to reading Fortune’s Pawn and Ancillary Justice! This year I read Love Minus Eighty – which I consider SF but more just futuristic since they weren’t in space. But then – does it really need to BE in space for it to be SF…I don’t think so.

  2. Mogsy

    Great review! I found this book so amazingly suspenseful, because I have a deep, deep fear of being lost in space. Nope, never wanted to grow up to be an astronaut, not me! My review for this will be up in a few days, it’s already done but, curse NaNo, I gotta spread out the blog posts a bit 😛
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Masks by E.C. BlakeMy Profile