"They lived with death, courted it, cheated it, as if it were a beautiful, fickle and capricious lover. It was like a ritual dance, a mating rite, and it welded them together."
3.5 rounded to 4 stars.
Death’s Head is a very good science-fiction story, but I think my downfall with it was a completely different expectation. The book blurb does a good job explaining the plot: Jarrat and Stone are captains of the NARC-Athena, stationed on planet Rethan against a drug syndicate known as Death’s Head. NARC, which stands for Narcotics and Riot Control, are currently trying to shut down the production and distribution of an illegal substance known as Angel. Angel works by rewiring the cerebral network, and is fatal for all users with a lifespan of approximately 2 years. Users die with drug use or drug withdrawal; no antitoxin or cure has been created thus far.
So I will start with the things I didn’t like:
1) While Jarrat and Stone are the two main characters and love interest, they don’t physically meet/unite until about 60% into the story. While I am familiar with character separation mid-way into the plot, this was the first time I’ve read something where I had to read most of the story before the two MCs even meet! This was aggravating for me, since I’m a huge M/M romance fanatic, and romance is hard to have when the characters are separated thus far. Don’t get me wrong, the story wasn’t boring – Jarrat and Stone both had obstacles to overcome before they had their reunion. This was just something that caught me off guard.
2)Proofreading/formatting issues. There weren’t just misspelled words; my ebook format had some funky things going on: several instances of word salads and weird symbols (like random letters with the ‘^’ character) made absolutely NO sense. Incorrect or missing punctuations also made me backtrack a few times. There were also cases when there seemed to be missing words and my mind had to mentally add them in.
3)The POV and head swapping confused the heck out of me at first. I got used it after a while, but the POV could easily switch between the main MCs and secondary characters from one paragraph to the next. There were also time jumps from one paragraph to the next without warning.
4)Long conversations during sex! (this is a personal niggle, so I didn’t really consider it too much when factoring the rating, but just thought people should be warned.)
But despite all the things I did not like, there were quite a few things I did:
1) World building. Very essential for any good science fiction story.
2) The action scenes involving riot armor, different weaponry, and aerial combat (with shuttles and other aircrafts). There weren’t a whole lot of action scenes compared to the overall length of this novel, but the ones present were well written and had my pulse racing.
3) Good secondary characters. Though the book had a good handful of these secondary characters, they didn’t steal the spotlight from Jarrat and Stone. This, I was grateful for.
4)Interesting twist with the mind bonding (even though it doesn’t occur until about 70% into the story). It left me wanting to know more of how this will develop in the later book.
I will definitely be picking up the sequel in the near future!