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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
In Boom by Fairchild, following a hostile Didjian attack at the academy, Admiral Merrecci must pilot the Onyx with a crew of academy attack survivors who happen to be cadets from a special wing for the developmentally disabled, including Trisomy 21, PDDs, and even one without a face. Merrecci struggles to manage the situation, relying on cadet competence despite doubts. In a fierce battle, attempts at negotiation eventually lead to escalated tensions and calls for aid. Conflicts among the crew intensify with personal confrontations and strained relationships. A string of events unfolds, from chaos in the Sentrale System that impacts execution strategies to encounters with the Maridamarak, tragedy, and desperate moves to bait the enemy. Internally, suspicions and accusations plague the crew, leadership dynamics shift, and shocking truths unravel that prompt discussion on roles and responsibilities within the fleet. Ultimately, the real mission becomes clear: the fate of humanity lies in the hands of the Onyx.
““This mission is really starting to piss me off,” Merrecci complained.” Boom is a sizeable novel with a lot of moving parts, but author Fairchild is able to keep readers engaged with an intriguing premise, a fast-moving pace, and elements of humor, even if not everyone will be on board with the nature of the jokes. The character development is extraordinary, with Merrecci having a prominent character arc, something he would not be capable of without the brutal honesty, quirks, and differently-thinking machinations of his rag-tag crew. As readers, we are treated to threat over threat, plenty of tension, conflict, and someone named Binnybodelandomingarathumapula. Fairchild's world-building is top-notch, with the standout to me being the construction of Guggler’s Den, from its grime-covered checkpoints to opulent high-rises, with intricate rules about face coverings, bounty collection, the hierarchical structure of the city, and a polymeliac alien element within the human-centric storyline. Fairchild ticks all the boxes for creating something new in a wildly recycled genre, and I enjoyed every page of Boom. Very highly recommended.