Book Review: Colony One by Tarah Benner

Colony One (The Elderon Chronicles #1) by Tarah Benner
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Blue Sky Studio

I was in the mood for a space station story so I decided to give this a read. It's been in my TBR pile for a while and one of my resolutions this year is to whittle away at that more than I have in the past.

This was a good story and I already want to go on to the next book (thanks Kindle Unlimited!). The story is told from two POVs, Maggie a journalist who has just been replaced at her newspaper by AI and Jonah, a former soldier whose life is in a bad rut. Both are given the opportunity to work for Maverick Enterprises on the first civilian space station, Elderon also known as Colony One. Maggie's puff pieces are to cast the company in a good light to basically sell the station to the masses as a destination they'd like to visit. Jonah's joined the private Space Force and his prior skillset is suited. Before too long, the fact that the Space Force has more recruits than seems normal and the inclusion of a bot company in the mix, all start to raise questions in our resident journalist. Things on Earth take a turn and then it's an all-out page-turner to the end.

The story was a good one and I have to say the strength lay in the parts about technology and its influence, intrusion and utility in the lives of everyone. Maggie's mother, a nurse, is replaced at her hospital by a bot. The SPIDER technology felt too likely for my comfort. The food lab was fascinating and while initially, the meat making was a bit off-putting, I decided that I could eat it. I thought the "garden" was very cool. The Optix seemed probable, useful and more addictive than mobile phones (if that's possible). Another highlight of the story is the suspense and action that finally kick in at the 67% mark when some robots on Earth start attacking people. I had to smile at an instance of bots going off on a bunch of theatregoers at a showing of Terminator.

There's a lot here to recommend it but there were a few points that were problems for me. There is a very bad case of "snapping" eyes in this story. It's constantly happening and not only did I start to think this should be something people can hear, I wished very much for there to be another descriptor in use for sharp looks given. Hopefully, that wanes in the next installment. And there are a couple of moments of shenanigans I have to call. First, let me say that the story was very much flirting with being romantic suspense. We have Maggie and Jonah but there's also Tripp Van de Graff (who sadly didn't get a POV in this book though he'seemed most interesting) so there's a bit of an attraction triangle. Fine. But Maggie and Jonah, both had instances where they seemed not to know that those physical stirrings in their bodies meant they were attracted to each other. It rang false. They're not tweens and Jonah very clearly got laid almost as soon as we meet him. I'm not a fan of adults acting like they don't know things they clearly should know. Fortunately, the instances are sparse, just enough to annoy not enough to derail the story or entirely damage the characters. The bigger shenanigan offence comes in for Maggie. She's rescued by Jonah after several hours on the floor of an airlock, bound, beaten and gagged and she's pulled free from a bot's death grip around her neck which results in gashes on her neck that are bleeding at a good rate and more bots are in pursuit... but she takes a moment to note how good Jonah smells. Girl, what?! All the shenanigans called and it took me right out of the story.

I'm going to read the next book so definitely recommended. Come for the space station, stay for the suspense.

Summary: Maggie Barnes is at the end of her rope. She’s young and broke living in New York, and her newspaper job has been taken by robots. When she’s offered a job aboard the first civilian space colony, Maggie thinks it’s her lucky break.
For Jonah Wyatt, the Space Force is his last shot at a military career. After years of tracking down the members of a deadly cyberterrorism ring, he was discharged from the army and stuck toning the asses of LA’s elite. Now this disgraced combat specialist is headed to space.

At first glance, Elderon seems to be a futuristic utopia: Bots do the laundry, meat comes from a lab, and the latest technology expands the scope of human capability. But as Maggie digs deeper, she realizes that Elderon is not at all what it seems. When she receives a tip from an unknown source, she’ll go undercover to learn the truth and place herself in the crosshairs of an all-out war.

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