I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
I'm usually more of a Japanese manga fan, but I kept hearing good things about this series, so I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. This first volume was a lot of fun.
The action starts right away and hardly ever lets up, and yet I still felt like I got a chance to know the characters a little. The only area where I was even the slightest bit disappointed was Marko and Alana's courtship (probably not the appropriate word, but I can't think of anything better) - the volume begins with Alana giving birth to her and Marko's child, and readers only get a few very biased hints here and there as to how they met and fell in love.
To say that Marko and Alana's relationship must have been an uphill battle is an understatement. Marko's people are natives of the moon orbiting Alana's people's planet. The war between the two groups has been going on for longer than anyone can remember and became so destructive that the fighting was moved to other planets. Alana and Marko were soldiers on opposite sides, and Alana was one of Marko's guards in a prison. Why they decided to trust each other and how they fell in love is, so far, a mystery, but a romance novel may have had something to do with it all. I'm looking forward to learning more in future volumes.
Marko and Alana spend most of the volume running from a variety of characters, including: a human-looking bounty hunter who's teamed up with a giant Sphynx cat that can tell when someone is lying; a bounty hunter who looks like a cross between a human and a spider; and Prince Robot IV, whose head is a TV screen and who is suffering from PTSD. They do encounter a little help, in the form of the ghost of a mutilated monkey girl named Izabel, but mostly everyone seems to either want to kill them or betray them.
Even with all the weirdness, it was never hard for me to follow what was going on. The details were alien, but the general situations were familiar. Yes, Alana's people have wings and do something called a wing-bleeding with their babies, and Marko's people have horns and think wing-bleeding is barbaric, but, in essence, it wasn't any more outlandish than two parents arguing over whether their baby should be circumcised.
Alana and Marko both seem pretty awesome and may be the most enjoyable fictional parents I've ever encountered (although Marko better get his personal baggage sorted out soon – I'll give him a pass for now, because he's busy trying not to die). Their efforts to be good parents in the midst of danger were sweet and often surprisingly funny. For instance, after their baby is born, Marko attempts to chew through the umbilical cord. When Alana understandably asks why he doesn't just use his sword, he replies that he's a father now, and he has made a vow never to draw his sword again (a vow which he breaks and sort of amends to "will never kill again," but whatever).
I really liked this first volume and can't wait to see where this series goes. The mix of humor, action, and drama worked perfectly for me.
I give out 5 stars so rarely that I sweated over this rating a little and wondered whether I shouldn't downgrade it to 4.5 stars. However, I've found myself going back to this volume just to reread my favorite bits, and feeling just as excited about those bits the second, third, whatever time around, so 5 stars it is.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)