I recently received and read a book called Star Scout Rising: First Trail by Gary Darby. I always look forward to the opportunity to read young adult sci-fi since there is so little of it out there. Star Scout Rising is about the adventures of a young man named Del Baldura, where he and his team are finishing up their Star Scout training. Star Scouts seemed to me to be like a cross between boy scouts and jedi knights. Their job was to explore the galaxy and make things safe for future travelers.
First off, I was excited to see that the book was published in Alaska. I know, that's not really a big deal, except I'm a third generation Alaskan and little things like that get me excited. There were even a few Alaska references in the novel.
Something else I really liked was the fact that it was a clean read: no swearing or other stuff to have to put up with. So, this officially gets the Berin Stephens Big Toe Up award for being something, as a father, I would have no reservations about my own kids reading.
I have to admit, it took me a while to get into the book. It wasn't until about the half-way mark when I found it hard to put down. In my opinion, the book could have used a faster start by being more streamlined. I felt like there was too much time spent with the villain, Peller, and the side story with Dal's uncle. Those stories didn't even tie in directly with Dal's yet (probably in the sequel) and slowed down the read. Some of those chapters are what I call "Council of Elrond" chapters - a lot of information but no action. But, I do advise people to stick with the book, because it does get good and exciting later on.
Gary's knowledge of military procedure was impressive and well detailed. A couple of minor complaints, though, are, 1: I thought they were a little too detailed at times (slowing things down), and 2: the use of all the abbreviations. It often took me out of the story as I had to sit there and try to remember what TL, LS, and CG meant. It might have been handy to have a table in the back of the book to help those of us non-military types to remember what those things stand for.
Something else I liked, military jargon aside, was that this was easy to understand sci-fi. Science fiction has a little bit of a stigma that it is filled with complex scientific terms and principles. This book didn't have that, which to me is a good thing. It might better be classified as an adventure that just happens to take place in outer space (kinda like my book, which is really just a comedy . . . set in outer space . . . with elves).
But overall, this was a good start to a new series. I look forward to more adventures of Del and his intrepid band of Star Scouts. It reminded me of the first science fiction book I'd ever read: Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids by Isaac Asimov.
You can purchase the book here:
And here's Gary's blog: http://starscoutrising.blogspot.com/