Cover Image: The Tangled Stars

The Tangled Stars

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Member Reviews

Cooper "Coop" Douglas has been a part of many things in his past: questionable trading, Pre-salvaging (which is a kind of stealing) and conning/lying/misdirecting almost daily, but never has he stumbled upon something so big that it could change the universe forever.  In THE TANGLED STARS, by Edward Willett, "Coop" has evidence that the MASTT space tunnel system that imploded and rocked the universe over a hundred years ago is beginning to reform and he wants to take advantage of it to pay off his debts and reset his status in the universe.  Each plan he makes seems to not go quite right and he has to make a new plan, with each one more dangerous than the last.  Can Coop, with the help from his AI enhanced cat, an old flame, and a motley crew of other pirates and criminals, prove to all of existence that the MASTT system is in the early stages of viability again and reap the benefits he so desperately yearns for, or will he get caught and imprisoned or killed in the process?
  Willett has created a vibrant, intricate future with very specific details that really enrich the story.  Coop is great as a lovable scoundrel who tries to do the right thing, even though can't help but be a little greedy along the way.  The book settles into a rhythm, where a problem in the plan causes Coop and his group to make a new plan, then a problem arises and another new plan must be created and so on.  A little repetitive, but the unique solutions and twists in the story keep it fun.  Coop's old flame, Laysa Grey, is along for most of the ride and I wanted to get to know her a little better; she seemed a mystery in her motives at times and other times almost wishy-washy in her convictions.  The supporting characters, human and AI both, added colorful layers to the plot throughout the book.
  Willett's book is really one long mission for a man to find his way to a better life and I really enjoyed going on that mission with Coop Douglas.
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The Tangled Stars is a space opera following Coop, a thief; his cop-slash-revolutionary ex, Laysa; and Thibauld, an AI-uplifted cat, trying to make the journey from one solar system to another. On the way, they need to steal a ship that can make that journey, avoid the space-cops, and keep a loan shark with a grudge from swiping said stolen ship - sometimes all simultaneously. 

Like others, the AI cat was what drew me to this book. I generally prefer my sci-fi on a TV screen rather than a book, but for a cat as a main character, I was willing to give this a try - and I'm glad I did. Willett has clearly spent a lot of time crafting the world the characters inhabit, and it keeps the reader engaged in the story throughout. I never really felt like there was a lull in the action, or that the info-dumps were too excessive. While the human characters do seem to fall into cliche at times, the story itself felt fresh and new, and that kept this from being an issue for me. 

I have two complaints, one more nit-picky than the other. The first is that there is a minor amount of continuity errors. An example of this is Thibauld shrugging in one chapter, and then chapters later it is mentioned that Thibauld is a cat and thus can't shrug. There are also a lot of pop culture references and idioms, which isn't a bad thing, but it did feel a little tedious having to read about how no one knows where they came from anymore. On the same token, there are things that don't really seem to make sense in a futuristic galaxy - are Christmas tree ornaments as we know them today still the same that far into the future? 

The other thing I had an issue with is the fact that, after a certain point, the book relies too heavily on the plot. I find this happens often in genres like science fiction and fantasy, and while it may not be an issue for others, as someone who generally goes for character-driven stories, it might feel a little empty in comparison, especially considering that the characters do fit pretty snugly into archetypes. However, that's probably more a reader's issue than an issue with the book itself, and I'll fully admit to that. 

Altogether, though, this was a fun read, and I'm glad I picked it up. It kept me reading and entertained to the end, and - assuming this is the first in a series - I would happily pick up the next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and DAW for providing a copy for review.
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How has this book not gotten more attention? The premise and the cover alone should have people hooked. When you get into it, the voice and story will suck you right in and I firmly believe any true sci-fi fan will love it. Also, if you know me at all you can probably guess that the cat was my favorite part LOL. Part drama, part action, part comedy, all lovable, this book truly has it all. I also think it would make a stellar movie.... see what I did there? Anyways, pick this book up, request it from your library, jog down to your local B&N, do whatever you have to do to get your hands on this underrated classic.
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Thibauld is my favorite sci-fi cat (there's more than one) and a cat was what made me want to read this book.
Thibauld did an excellent job as this is an excellent sci-fi story: fast paced, action packed, and complex.
A story of worlds, underdogs and things that should not be there. There's a lot of humour and the storytelling is excellent.
Can't wait to read other books featuring Thibauld or written by this author.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
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Ahoy there mateys!  This caught me fancy because it follows a space thief whose first mate is " the wisecracking, AI-uplifted, genetically modified cat Thibauld."  This had all the ingredients for a successful book but didn't gel for me.  Even the talking cat couldn't save it.  In retrospect, I think the  humor ended up being not to me taste.  Or maybe I just couldn't completely connect to the main character, Coop.  There were elements I really liked and this book has 4 and 5 star reviews all over the place.  Wish I could do the same.  Abandoned this one at 15%.  Thanks to the publisher's for the eArc.
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a space adventure with two humans, tangled in life, and one sassy cat – for what else you could ask?
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I came for the space opera heist, but stayed for the voice, which is the kind of wry, noirish, bantering voice I particularly enjoy. 

The heist, as it turns out, is not the main focus of the book; it goes off, certainly not without a hitch, but with no more of a hitch than anything else in the story, taking up a relatively small portion of the runtime. The whole book strikes me as having been written according to the principles of the book <i>Scene & Structure</i>, which propels the characters through the story and keeps up an excellent level of tension as they constantly face obstacles and challenges. The crime boss who is the main antagonist gets a viewpoint, and is thoroughly despicable, but not at all a cartoonish villain; cutting to him every so often and showing us something that he's doing that the protagonists don't know about and that will be bad for them, or alternately vice versa, makes the most of the literary technique of dramatic irony to maximize both the drama and the irony. 

I've thought for years that having a character who was a combination of an advanced AI with a domestic cat would be fun, and it turns out that I was right. But he is far more than comic relief, becoming a key player in the unfolding events. 

Everyone, in fact, is more than just their archetype plus their plot role; the characters are three-dimensional, they all want things which they can't have and strive to get anyway, they all have backstories that inform the action, their relationships with each other are important, and in general the character side of things is expertly handled. Add that to a well-paced and twisty plot and just the right amount of worldbuilding (a lot of the technology is sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from magic because, as the character with the first-person viewpoint advises us, it was created by AIs and humans don't understand how they did it, which is a great handwave), and this becomes an all-around triumph. One of the many moments of "Oh crap, what next?" comes at the end, priming the reader for the next volume, and I will be eagerly awaiting it.
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