Book Review: Dark Run
When you find yourself consistently picking up the same book every time you browse the shelves at your bookstore, eventually you buy it. This is the rule of the universe that I've just made up, and also why I ended up purchasing Dark Run, a fun space opera romp.
Dark Run follows the crew of the Keiko, a bunch of misfits running from their pasts and led by Captain Ichabod Drift. When a figure out of Drift's shady past threatens blackmail if he doesn't take on a job, Drift reluctantly agrees to smuggle a package to Earth. But when the package turns out to contain a bomb, Drift and his crew set out to take down the man who nearly killed them all, while dealing with relationship-shattering revelations about each other.
This book owes a lot to Firefly, and I do mean a lot. You can see the same archetypes threaded through it: Ichabod as the rogueish captain, Tamara Rourke as the tough-as-nails second-in-command, Micah van Schaken as the meathead soldier...you see where I'm going. It even has a sort of future-China similar to the world of Firefly.
But just because it's derivative doesn't mean it isn't fun. It's a bit like candy - there's not a ton of substance here, but it's tasty to read, an action-packed rollicking adventure, with very little breathing room in between beats. Sure, it's predictable, but what isn't these days? And there's a few particularly memorable scenes, like the nail-bitingly tense Earth atmosphere entry through the heart of a storm.
Sadly, the characters are a smidge one dimensional, without a lot of growth. Brooks went to the trouble of giving most of them convoluted (and hella interesting) pasts, but then didn't follow that up with a lot of emotional arc. For example, we find out that Ichabod was a Pretty Bad Dude at one point, but he's not really interested in atoning for it so much as he's interested in hiding it. In fact, all of the characters' primary goals seem to be "hiding" - which makes for boring character arcs.
Despite that, the writing is quick-witted with plenty of snark. I bought the book in large part because I opened it to a random page and that random page made me laugh. The prose gets a little overwrought in places, but on the whole it's solid and adds more than it detracts.
Dark Run isn't earth-shattering, and it probably won't win awards, but not every book needs to. It's enjoyable enough for what it is, and it's a fun, one-sitting read for anyone who loves Firefly.