Orbit, out August 25
Coming down to Earth doesn’t lessen Riley Hale’s many problems…
Rob Boffard’s trilogy of stories featuring Tracer (runner) Riley Hale comes to an end in this tale set primarily on an Earth that is suspiciously far more habitable than the inhabitants of the space station on which Riley has lived all her life had believed. The reasons for this do become clear by the end of the book, and tie together a number of threads that have run through the trilogy.
Boffard maintains the separate chapters for the different points of view, keeping first person narration solely for Riley. We’ve seen her grow up across the trilogy, and she gets further lessons from some of those she meets on Earth before the final confrontation that events have been building towards – and which goes exactly as it should. Her complicated lovelife is addressed, and the resolution of this is also very fitting, plus there is a thread set on Outer Earth that shows just how much of an effect Riley has had on those around her.
The change in environment gives this final book a very different feel – the claustrophobia of Outer Earth is replaced by a real sense of the almost-agoraphobia that someone who’s lived on a space station all their life would feel when faced with the Great Outdoors. Particularly when said Great Outdoors is the wilds of Alaska! It also inevitably alters the way in which all of our heroes face their respective new threats – the old ways can only get them so far… I’ve commented previously that the stories have been plot rather than character driven, but the balance of the two in this finale is much better, although the antagonists are still not as fleshed out as they could be.
Boffard’s writing has become increasingly more fluid as the trilogy has progressed, and this is the strongest of the books yet. The afterword hints at more Riley adventures to come, but it’ll be interesting to see how (like his heroine!) he applies the lessons learned from her stories in a new environment.
Verdict: A strong finale to a fun trilogy. 8/10