Book Review: Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry

 
 
Gary, a half-unicorn, is finally free after years of imprisonment and just wants to take back his ship and his life. But Jenny, the woman who once captured and tortured him, needs Gary and his ship in order to make a drop-off and rescue her wife. When Jenny helps Gary escape a bar brawl, these unlikely allies will have to work together to make the delivery on time.
 

 
Book Review: Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry | reading, books. book reviews, science fiction
Title: Space Unicorn Blues
Author:
Publisher:
Series:
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 384
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

There were a lot of things to love about this book. An uncommon paranormal creature! Unlikely allies! LGBT+ characters! A disabled character! POC characters! Space adventure! But it ended up being not right for me.

I think the biggest problem was that I was expecting a fun, action-packed space adventure full of shenanigans and misfits, but this was slow-paced for most of the story and more serious and harsh than fun.

Then there were the characters. The blurb makes it sound like Gary is the protagonist, but it felt like Jenny’s story. It seemed like most of the book was her POV, she had the most development, and she was the one who drove the story forward. Unfortunately, I didn’t like her. I couldn’t bring myself to like anyone, aside from Gary and Boges (a dwarf who lived on his ship). The things they had done were too terrible and selfish. Jenny was eventually sorry, but it took her until the end of the book. And although I liked Gary, I never got a feel for his personality. I get that he was disenchanted and traumatized, but I needed something. I never even knew what emotions he was feeling. To be fair though, it is realistic for people to not be sorry, to avoid emotions that make them uncomfortable, to get so beaten down that they just let things happen to them, etc., so while the characters may not have been likeable to me, they were still believable.

I will also give the book credit—if ever there were a team of unlikely allies, this was it. This was as unlikely as unlikely allies can get. But they were maybe too unlikely for me? Jenny and Jim spent years keeping Gary captive and torturing him. I was frustrated with how, upon getting back on his ship with them, he just kind of let them boss him around again and was even willing to put his own safety and freedom at risk to help/save them. And honestly I wasn’t comfortable with Gary becoming friends with Jenny after everything she did to him, even if she had changed.

But hey, something positive now! I liked the half-unicorn aspect! And he was literally half unicorn. He had the upper body of a human, but the legs of a unicorn, plus a horn (or rather, a space on his head where a horn should’ve been, since his was cut off). Unicorns also had their own beliefs and ways of life, and little inclusions of those things were interesting.

I also loved the diversity/inclusivity. Gary was asexual and Indian on his mother’s side. Jenny was a lesbian and used a wheelchair. Ricky was trans. It all seemed like good rep. And although the characters on the ship didn’t always get along, they did respect each other in regards to these things (aside from Jim, who was supposed to be a jerk). Also, the prejudice against the non-human species was a continued theme throughout the book.

Another great thing was the world-building. The areas of space, the planets, the different species, the way way the ship worked, the backstory for how things got to be the way they were, etc. were well thought-out. The stoneship, and how it was a living thing, was especially creative. I also liked that all the alien species weren’t too human-like. Even little details about different types of drinks made the world more interesting.

The writing was good too. I have no complaints there.

I also want to mention that this is the first in a series, so there are story threads left open to continue in future books.

So overall, this didn’t end up being the fun, action-packed book I thought it would be, and it wasn’t quite right for me, but I did like the unicorn aspect, the inclusivity, and the world-building, and I think other people might enjoy it more than I did.

 
 
Book Blurb

A misfit crew race across the galaxy to prevent the genocide of magical creatures, in this unique science fiction debut.

Having magical powers makes you less than human, a resource to be exploited. Half-unicorn Gary Cobalt is sick of slavery, captivity, and his horn being ground down to power faster-than-light travel. When he’s finally free, all he wants is to run away in his ancestors’ stone ship. Instead, Captain Jenny Perata steals the ship out from under him, so she can make an urgent delivery. But Jenny held him captive for a decade, and then Gary murdered her best friend… who was also the wife of her co-pilot, Cowboy Jim. What could possibly go right?

Basic Info

Book Author:
Publisher:
Series:
Genre: , ,
My Book Rating:
Series/Standalone:
Setting Location:

More Info (Possible Spoilers)

Sexual Orientation: ,
Disability: ,
Non-Human Type:
Romance Type:
Other:

Warnings

Sex:
Violence:
Strong Language:

 
 
 

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  1. Greg

    Ooh I was really curious about this. And it’s Angry Robot too- I didn’t realize that. I’ve liked a few of the books they’ve published. anyway… sorry this one didn’t click. I definitely would have expected a fun, light hearted romp with this one. Especially with a half unicorn?

    1. Kristen Burns

      I think this was the first Angry Robot book I read, but they do have some I’m interested in. Apparently everyone else also thought it’d be light and fun, so it’s at least reassuring to know it wasn’t just me who thought that.

  2. Suz

    Sorry you didn’t like this one.
    From the title and the blurb I would have expected it to be light-hearted too.
    Good review :-)

  3. Sam@WLABB

    I had to read this review, because i needed to know more about a book with such a fabulous title. Like you, I thought it would fun, and I am sad to hear it wasn’t. Boo! Even though it fell short there, I am glad it had a lot of other positive attributes (diversity, good writing, etc).

    Sam@WLABB recently posted: Summer TBR Wipeout

  4. Lola

    I did expect this one to be fun and humorous indeed when I saw it on Edelweis. I am glad now that i didn’t request it as it doesn’t sound like quite the right book for me either. Although it does seem like it has some great aspects as well. I also thought Gary was the main characters, so that sounds like quite the difference when jenny actually is more the main character.

    It sure sounds like a team of unlikely allies, which can work great, but these two do seem a bit too unlikely indeed. And that sounds a bit weird and uncomfortable with how Jenny and Jim used to torture him and now they sort of work together with him. That seems like a bit too big of a thing to get over and become friends with the person who tortured him.

    That does sound unique how he literally is half unicorn and how they have their own beliefs and such. Seems like it did have a lot of diversity. And the world building sounds well done. And I like seeing non human aliens in books, so that part sounds great too.

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #290

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it sounded fun, and I was expecting the MC to be Gary. I wanted him to be the MC. I wanted to know more about him and get his POV more. One of those cases of having the wrong expectations.

      I just couldn’t bring myself to be ok with someone being friends with someone who kept them in a cage and tortured them for years :-/

      There were definitely some good things though, which is why I’d be willing to give this author another try if she wrote a different series that sounded good. I also like when there are non-human aliens since it doesn’t make sense that all aliens would be like us!

  5. Olivia Roach

    I like books set in space but I don’t read them nearly enough! I have a lot of them on my TBR. A half-unicorn sci-fi? This is definitely a unique one to me and I haven’t heard of anything like it. But your review makes me think I wouldn’t enjoy this one nearly enough to make it worth my while, which is such a shame :/ The characters don’t sound too promising and the plot seems a little too slow for my liking.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: June Wrap Up! [2018]

    1. Kristen Burns

      I have a few on my tbr too. The half-unicorn thing had me so interested! But yeah, if you don’t want a slow pace or character who might be difficult to like, it might not be a good book for you either.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I thought of that too! Like, what the odds of two unicorn characters named Gary??? It’s not even a very unicorn-y name lol. Yeah, it wasn’t a bad book, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting or what I’d hoped it would be.

  6. Danya @ Fine Print

    Dang, okay. I was expecting this one to be lighthearted and fun too, sort of along the lines of A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet, but this actually sounds intense. At least the diversity rep seemed solid, that’s always a good sign! Maybe I’ll pick this up when I’m in the mood for a more serious read.

    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted: Review: Rogue Souls by Chelsea Mueller

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t read that one in particular, but yeah, I think I was just kind of accustomed to the fun space adventure type books that I expected it from this one too and was disappointed when I didn’t get it. But it did have a lot of good things! Maybe being in the right mood will make all the difference.

  7. Daniela Ark

    oh ok I grinned when I read the title of this post/book. A space unicorn? I give you a LOT of credit for picking this one! I would have NEVER! I think??? I don’t know. Unicorns are a stretch as it is .Like fae LOL and a space one?? and the title would make me think this fantastic/ scifi creature is also depressed this is what I like about your blog. It often pushes me out of my comfort zone ;-) sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much as you wanted to though! :(

    Daniela Ark recently posted: Best Books Read in 2018

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh come on, maybe you wouldn’t pick this up, but this is EXACTLY the kind of thing I would pick up lol. But yeah, it was too bad it wasn’t what I thought it would be!

  8. Cee Arr

    So… he was like a unicorn centaur? I’m not sure whether I love it, or think it’s naff. Hmmm. Food for thought. Lol!

    I have no idea where the thing of space unicorns came from. Like, was there a defining moment where some creator, somewhere, decided to put a unicorn in space?!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh darn, I didn’t realize I wasn’t very clear and made him sound like a centaur. He’s more like a unicorn satyr lol. He only has two legs.

      Idk, I’m totally here for more space unicorns!