Star Binder

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
456 Pages
Reviewed on 07/05/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Robert Appleton is an English author of science fiction and steampunk. He has written for over a dozen publishers, including Harlequin Carina Press. He also ghostwrites stories in a variety of genres. In his free time he hikes, plays soccer, and kayaks whenever he can. His favourite books and movies, like his own fiction, usually take place in the distant past or the far future. The night sky is his inspiration.

He has won awards for both fiction and book cover design.

The inspiration for Star Binder came while I was fighting to stay awake during the most monotonous day job imaginable. An image flashed into my mind, an image of two best friends relaxing, kicking their feet up at the end of a hard day's grifting, and as they gaze up into the night sky they realise they're in a rut. If they don't make a change soon, they'll never get to go off-world. They'll never experience the amazing things they've always dreamed of. But change can be a frightening thing...

One of things I love about science fiction is it takes the imagination to places no other genre can. There's a fascinating tug-of-war inside your head between disbelief and the acknowledgement that what you're reading could be possible some day. I love that. There are no limits to how far I can take that idea as a writer, and I think I took it for a wild ride with Star Binder.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Star Binder by Robert Appleton is an outstanding work of young adult science fiction. Jim Trillion is a thirteen-year-old drifter on the planet Mars. Jim and his friend, Sergei, spend their days skimming credits. Digitally pick-pocketing others provides travel money and the freedom to roam. While working in a local diner, skimming customers, Jim and Sergei notice two “off-worlders” in trench coats hanging around. A loud explosion, screams and gunfire erupt, insurgents charge into the diner on a mission to kill. One of the trench coat men intervenes, taking on the invaders single handedly. Trench Coat man is wounded; Sergei and Jim help him escape the violent chaos, but soon part ways. Within days of the attack, Jim and Sergei are on the run and almost out of money. Suddenly the mysterious Trench Coat man reappears, offering them a chance of a lifetime; a top secret project, a career opportunity with unlimited possibilities. Sergei leaves, abandoning Jim on board a shuttle, heading to who knows where, to do who knows what. From this moment on, Jim’s life will never be the same for what lies ahead of him could be only imagined in his dreams.

Robert Appleton’s Star Binder is entertaining, action-packed science fiction at its best. Engaging! Captivating! The writing style is smooth as silk and perfectly seamless. In a work written for the young adult audience, Appleton challenges the mind, body and soul. He entices the reader’s curiosity with elements of the unknown while stimulating them with a plot of extreme competition. Appleton also appeals to the heart, pricking emotions with depictions of homelessness, abandonment, feelings of being way in over your head, and not able to understand the world around you. The characterization is top-notch; the diverse cast of characters feeds off each other, creating a one-of-a-kind core group. The hero is young, loyal, intelligent and a risk taker. Although he seems careless at times, he searches diligently for the meaning of life, desiring answers to questions just beyond his reach. His sidekick buffets and challenges him, causing his character to evolve. Caught in an unbelievable adventure, sailing into the dark sea of the unknown, Jim and Sergei are the contemporary sci-fi version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Robert Appleton is a talented storyteller; he says he is inspired by the night sky. By all means, keep looking up into darkness and lighting up our world with your imagination.

Ray Simmons

Star Binder by Robert Appleton is exactly the kind of science fiction novel I am into these days, and it is great. I like all types of science fiction and I read them all, but lately I have searched for books concerned with how life in the near future will look as we branch out and settle our solar system. I am a big fan of Elon Musk and his dream to colonize Mars. I have been watching the Chinese take the lead in plans to colonize the moon, and I enjoy reading well thought out visions of this near future exploration and expansion. Star Binder is one of the best examples I have read of this particular type of science fiction. The science is there but, just as important, how humanity will react and live in this new solar system is there too.

All the science in the world will not help if you can’t show realistic reactions from people. This is especially true when depicting ordinary people living their daily lives. Robert Appleton is a master at this. I could believe in life on Mars as I read the adventures of Jim and Sergei. The plot is good, but the characters sell the book. These young men are likable as only charming con men can be. Robert Appleton’s writing, along with the charisma of these two characters, places Star Binder on a level above the average science fiction novel. The science is accurate, but the characters are wonderfully human. That is what makes this book work so well. That is what makes this near future look so possible, even likely.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

James Trillion isn’t sure of much of anything about his life since the day he stumbled across the bodies of his father and sister, but the one thing he is sure of is Sergei ... until the day that he’s left all alone to create his own life, for the first time in seven years. But is James able to reconcile everything he’s seen and done in his life to what this new Initiative requires of him? Will he and his new friends be able to help save the worlds from the invasion? Or will they be destroyed like the many civilizations the Finaglers and the Sheikers have destroyed in the past? It’s going to be up to more than just James, Lyssa, Rachel, Sergei and Lohengrin to wait and see what happens next in Star Binder by Robert Appleton; they’ll also have to see what the mysterious creature is that’s been helping James all this time.

This is definitely a story of friends and family, but it’s also a story filled with action and adventure. The characters are all ones that you can’t help but like right from the beginning and they never give up on anything. They’re young, but they’re brave and strong, and they’re adventurous enough to survive anything. There’s plenty to keep anyone interested and it’s something that will make you want to read more. There’s never a dull moment and always new characters to learn about and to root for. Star Binder by Robert Appleton is a book I’ll most certainly be recommending.

Divine Zape

Set on Mars, Star Binder by Robert Appleton is an exciting story that combines elements of sci-fi with adventure, and sends readers on a rollicking ride across the galaxy. The colonies are under duress from aliens who could invade them at any time and life isn’t that easy for mankind. To survive, Trillion and his best friend, Sergei, must scrape their way through the oases resorts of Mars to make a living, using all their wit and cunning to get away with petty crime. But things change when they save the life of a well-known explorer who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime — join a mysterious academy and prepare for a journey across the galaxy. Could this be the way forward to warding off aliens, unveiling Jim’s secret past and reaching the stars? The mission is more than just a dream. Be prepared for a one-of-a-kind ride with these exciting characters.

Star Binder is a story that explores the heights of human abilities, a story of self-exploration and discovery, well-written, and featuring unforgettable characters. Readers will love to meet Jim and Sergei and follow them on their journey from hardship to living with a purpose. In the opening lines one reads: “Our day begins the way all days begin in the oases resorts of Mars...with a crime. Not a serious one. No, we don’t roll that way. Many other drifters do, but those grid-lickers never last long outside of colonial custody.” The story is told in the first person narrative, in a humorous, light, and persuasive voice that will sing in the ears of readers. The conflict is well-developed and the plot moves very fast. Robert Appleton establishes himself as a great storyteller in Star Binder, and readers will love his memorable characters.

Liz Konkel

Star Binder by Robert Appleton follows Jim Trillion and his best friend, Sergei, as they barely scrape by to make a living on the streets. After they save a man in a trench coat, the man offers them a place at a secret academy, with promises of a heroic future. Jim is swayed by the chance to one day see the world, to be more than he is now, but with the threat of an invasion, life at the academy becomes complicated, including friendship and bullies. As Jim investigates the secrets of the academy, he discovers secrets of his own unknown past. The closer he comes to the truth, the more he has to rely on Sergei and their new friends to make it through training.

A coming of age story in the stars, Star Binder is a humorous and gritty adventure, which inspires all to follow their dreams. Robert Appleton has a light and intelligent writing style, with characters that are compelling, with attitude and heart. Bullying is a big theme, showing Jim and his friends learning to stand up not just for themselves, but for each other. Curiosity, loyalty, and friendship drive them to find answers, to learn, and to work together. The friendship between Sergei and Jim is heartwarming, sincere, and perfect. Every scene they shared made me care even more. Their scenes were funny and charming, and made me completely emotionally invested. Appleton pushes the boundaries of the imagination with emotional stakes and a heroic quest in this must-read novel!