Honor Among Thieves (Caine and Aguire)

Next up: “Honor Among Thieves” by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Start of a new series.


Zara Cole is a street kid from the Lower Eight with 99 problems, and her attitude ain’t one (according to her).  After robbing the wrong mark, she finds herself desperately trying to escape the reach of the very rich, very powerful Deluca.  Hoping he won’t be able to reach her in a behavioral rehab center (basically a jail), Zara fakes a violent fit and is sent to Camp Kuna.  But it all turns out to be a moot point, because very soon after, she is chosen to become an Honor.

The Honors are people selected for the chance to partner with a Levianthan, a sentient space-whale-ship.  The Leviathans came to Earth right before humanity doomed itself to extinction, saving our race and offering an amazing opportunity to explore and learn more about the universe.  100 people are selected, based on some unclear measure of compatibility and capability, to partner with a Leviathan for a year-long Tour, during which they perform tasks for the betterment of both races.  This year-long Tour is also an evaluation for particular Honors who are suitable for the much longer Journey that takes Leviathan and Honors much farther out into the Universe.

Zara is the first Honor selected from the Lower Eight, a honor she finds dubious.  She is not entirely enthused by the idea, at least until she meets Nadim, the Leviathan she is assigned to.  With Nadim, she finds a closer and more caring relationship than she has ever experienced before–she finds a home.  But there are secrets in the Universe, secrets about the Leviathan-human alliance.  And those secrets are dangerous.

My thoughts

This book side-swiped me; I never saw it coming.  I checked it out from the library on a whim, and picked it up one night after dinner on a whim.  And then I proceeded to read the entire thing in one go.  I really enjoyed it.  Zara is great, I really enjoyed her character.  She was sassy, but it wasn’t an overbearing ‘make this smart-mouthed kid shut up’ level of sass.  She might be well-versed in sarcasm, but she also has the wisdom when not to use it.  I really liked how consistent her character was, and how her actions made sense with who she was.  Too often in YA we’re told something about a character and then shown the opposite in their deeds.  And, for all she’s supposed to be a criminal, she’s tremendously admirably principled.  I really liked that she flat-out would not blindly build crazy space machinery without knowing what it was going to be used for.

I also really liked the other characters in the book.  I like Nadim, the ship, and how much of a sweetheart he was.  Cinnamon roll space whale.  I really liked how the book starts out with a scene from his point of view, too, I thought it was a really great intro into the idea of sentient ships.  The relationships between the Leviathan and the Honors and between the Honors were great, too.  I was glad for the dynamic between Beatriz and Zara, especially after the intro we had to Beatriz.

One of the most common failings of scifi books, particularly YA I feel, is that they try to science and then epically fail.  And I cry.  It was nice that “Honor Among Thieves” didn’t try to get into the nitty gritty of the science.  It was soft scifi; there’s spaceships and aliens and stuff, but nothing is described in the level of detail that would reveal the giant gaping holes.  The way the Leviathan work is very vague and mostly not touched on, so a lot of stuff you just let go as crazy space whale stuff.  Which is just fine, honestly; sometimes I wish authors just didn’t try to go all elaborate with the science, because when you spend forever talking about the science behind a thing and the science is so totally wrong, it ruins the thing.

Quite a solid addition to YA scifi.  Avoids so many of the pitfalls of YA, and offers something fresh I think.  I’m definitely going to keep a sharp eye out for the sequel.


7/7 stars


Some description of child abuse, as a backstory.


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