A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.
What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.
In space, every second counts. Who said nobody could hear you scream? (Goodreads)
Tracer was a book that I ended up reading purely by chance. Though I had been sent an ARC by the publishers, at the time I had many, many books on my TBR list. However, the Book Fates (or more accurately, my forgetfulness in uploading my next read to my Ipad) had other ideas and so I decided to start reading this on my commute into work.
Tracer turned out to be that book that seems to soak into you brain to the point that you are dying to know what happens next. Boffard has created the perfect Sci Fi thriller that takes edge of your seat greatness to a level that I, personally, have not seen. This is a book that starts off with a slow build, as you and the main character, Riley begin to realise that this is more than a job gone wrong. With the conspiracy of a mad man, intent on destroying human life, being thrown into disarray, this should be in the tradional thriller sense, the end of the book. Yet, this is the beginning and as the story progresses, you see how deep ad how far up the food chain of command this plot has gone.
This is real edge of your seat stuff and with a ticking time bomb to the space stations destruction, Robbard perfectly creates this picture of humanity breaking down as the realisation that this is no prank. The fact that this is set in space only adds to the inevitability of the situation. There is no outside “white knight” on the horizon to save the day. These people are on there own and are powerless to prevent the destruction of their home.
For me, what was refreshing and in some ways surprising, was the fact that the fate of the space stations future rested on Riley, the “Tracer” or courier who started off this chain reaction of events by breaking the cardinal rule of her profession by looking inside the package of her job. For all intents and purposes, there is nothing remarkable or extra-ordinary about Riley. Yes, she is very good at her job, but she has no super-powers and more than once during the course of the book, takes a real beating. It is these very human and relatable qualities, along with her deep seated hope and faith in the people on this space station that makes you root for her. She wants to do the right thing and bring down those who would choose to destroy her home. She steps up to the plate and owns her mantle as saviour, even when those who wish to see the stations destruction, turn her into the villain of the piece. I became so emotionally invested in her journey, that during those last few chapters when it looked like she was going to lose, I was spurring her on. Riley really deserves her place among the great sci-fi heroines such as Ripley from Aliens and Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Without a Villain, we could never have our hero and in Tracer, the “main” villain is formidable in his belief. Darnell was every bit as complex and interesting to read about as Riley. His rags to riches story, makes his decision in destroying space station all that more understandable. Boffard could have easily given us a pantomime villain, but his creation is someone who you could sympathise with. When you begin to see who the puppet master is, you begin to see that he is as much a victim as the rest and you begin to wonder how much his psyche had been poisoned by an outside source. Does that mean that I was sorry to see his fate? No, but when the true plot comes out, I could see that he was to be a martyr for the true villains cause.
It is these red-herrings, double crosses and complex plot twists that took me by surprise. A few of the other players unmasking really took me by surprise and one person in particular was really shocking. It had me questioning everything that had preceded their reveal. Even thinking back, I still didn’t see any hints on their involvement and yet it still made perfect sense.
The ending of the book still had a few surprises and though I predicted one of the revelations, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book. In fact, this reveal resulted in a huge lump in my throat as Riley had to come to terms what this would all mean. There is a sacrifice that had to be made and though it did mean that the space station was saved, the personal loss for Riley had my heart-breaking. This was how deeply I had become invested in Riley’s plight. I grieved with her for her loss and still I held out hope for the future of these people. Knowing that this was the first book in a series, I knew it would not be plain sailing but Boffard leaves you with that little glimmer of hope that through the ashes of this horrible event, the people on the ship will be able to rebuild.
Tracer more than deserves the accolade of being one of “Amazon’s rising stars of 2015” and for a debut novel and author, this is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. It is a book that just has that perfect mix of brilliantly complex character, complex plotting and pacing that keeps you wanting to read more. For anyone who loves great Science Fiction, Thriller or just needs something to fill the void that the TV show “The 100” has left, pick up this book. You will not be disappointed.