I rather fell in love with the blurb for this one – after all, I’m a huge fan of Becky Chambers and Mary Robinette Kowal. And I also liked the cover, although there is a version that I far prefer than this one. But a far-future sci fi adventure on Earth with a wild west vibe? Yippee!
BLURB: Earth, the distant future: climate change has reduced our verdant home into a hard-scrabble wasteland. Saints and sinners, lawmakers and sheriffs, travellers and gunslingers and horse thieves abound. People are as diverse and divided as they’ve ever been – except in their shared suspicions when a stranger comes to town.
One night a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in three hundred years. She’s armed, she’s scared… and she’s looking for someone.
Love, loss, and gunslinging in this dazzling debut novel by Grace Curtis. For fans of Sam J. Miller, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Becky Chambers, Frontier is a heartfelt queer romance in a high noon standoff with our planet’s uncertain future, full of thrills, a love story, and laser guns.
REVIEW: I think the first issue for me with this one is the very high expectation I had on picking it up. After all, a direct comparison with the likes of Becky Chambers and Mary Robinette Kowal means the standard of story-telling and characterisation has to be extremely high. And frankly, I don’t think the book delivered quite enough magic to be able to stand alongside both authors.
That doesn’t mean it is a bad read, however. Just that it isn’t an outstanding read. But I struggled quite badly with this one for nearly the first half. There is a particularly vile antagonist who keeps popping up and managing to win the day. Initially, I didn’t warm to the main protagonist all that much, even though she is clearly more principled than a number of the folks she encounters. But while it’s clearly flagged she’s looking for someone, we don’t know who. Neither do we really know who she is. And upsettingly (as far as I was concerned) nice people are carelessly gunned down as if they are nothing.
The level of violence also brought me up a bit short – though yes, I know it’s the wild west in a post-apocalyptic world. But Becky Chambers was also mentioned and I was expecting the more uplifting worlds that she depicts… So my progress through it was a bit of a trudge and I was considering DNFing it – until we got to the flashback sequence, when we get to properly meet the protagonist and understand her urgency and who she’s trying to find. And suddenly I was utterly invested the story. And wondering why on Earth this section didn’t appear a whole lot sooner in the book. That still really bugs me – I feel the narrative has been scrambled for some stylistic reason and frankly, that kind of mucking about is what drove me away from literary fiction in the first place.
From then on, the story gathered pace and I was hooked, thoroughly enjoying the denouement and the tender relationship between the protagonist and her lover. However, I’m giving this one three stars – and I haven’t done that with a book I’ve completed for a long time. While I obtained an arc of Frontier from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.