I’ve been connected with M. Pax, the author of The Backworlds, on Twitter for a while now (https://twitter.com/mpax1), and I love the articles she tweets. They’re right up my alley — science, archaeology, space…okay, that’s science.
So when I sat down to read The Backworlds, the first book in her Backworlds sci-fi series, I was a little bit nervous. You know that feeling when you really want to like something, but are afraid you might not?
Well, let me say right off the bat, there was no need to worry. I found this book very entertaining. It was engaging, and when it was done, I was left wanting more — aren’t I lucky it’s part of a series?
The author sets up a really interesting universe, torn asunder by war, where people are engineered for their specific environment. The main character, Craze, lives in the titular Backworlds, where life is harsh and his father kicks him out…and off planet.
The rest of the story follows Craze as he tries to survive and find a future in the stars. Along the way, he has to use his wits to get out of trouble (and hopefully make a profit), and meets a bevy of interesting characters, though you’re never quite sure who’s friend and who’s foe.
I like that secondary characters are treated with as much care and attention as the main character, and how they are developed over the story. And also how they are not always what you expect. I particularly enjoyed the aviarmen, Lepsi and Talos, that Craze meets along the way. The interaction between the characters is well crafted.
I thoroughly enjoyed travelling alongside Craze as he ventures out into a sometimes unwelcoming universe. In a odd way, this book had echoes of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (reviewed here), even though the stories are very different. But I felt the same underlying positivity and sense of hope while reading it, despite the harshness Craze faces — we’ll see if that is carried forward when I read book 2…though I do expect the characters to still face troubles and have lots more adventures.