Heaven’s Queen: Review

May 7, 2014 2014, 3 star books, adult crossover, Kate, rachel bach, sci fi or futuristic 19

Heaven’s Queen: ReviewHeaven's Queen by Rachel Bach
Series: Paradox #3
Published by Orbit Books on April 22, 2014
Genres: adult, science fiction
Pages: 379
Format: ARC
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From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running.

It's time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

So here’s the deal: Heaven’s Queen is fine. If you enjoyed where the series seemed to be heading in book two, if you think Rupert and Devi are interesting together, if you don’t particularly care for the parts of the story where Devi fights in her robot suit… You’ll like this book. It will seem fitting and appropriate, you will be warm and happy, and you’ll agree with the majority of readers on Goodreads, where it currently has a rating over four stars.

What follows will contain minor spoilers for the previous books in this series.

If you started this series because you were interested in a story about a badass female mercenary who unapologetically sleeps around (you know, a man in every port and all that), and who fights in an awesome robot suit, you may come out of it feeling a little bit betrayed. Devi’s not a character who NEEDS a will-they-won’t-they romantic storyline. She’s a Ripley, a Starbuck, a Sarah Connor; her strength lies in her ability to focus on her mission and protect the people who need her. If you give her a big, strong, stoic man to lean on, she loses a great deal of what made her fascinating to begin with. Characters can and should grow and change, but those changes have to be earned or they don’t mean anything, and–what’s worse–they break the contract between the writer and the reader.

I can spend hours and hours discussing stories (why the series finale of Breaking Bad was so good, why The Killing should have revealed who killed Rosie Larsen at the end of season one, why it’s problematic that that one dude had a tail in Orphan Black, why viewers are able to forget that big romantic heroes in two CW shows (Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries) committed rape in the first seasons of those shows), and what creators owe the fans of their properties. I tend to be more forgiving of variations from what was promised when the first book in a series is published before the last book is written, and I believe this series falls into that category, so I don’t want to be overly harsh. But… you can’t rewrite what’s already been published. It’s there. We read it. It’s canon. You can’t show me a quiet, friendly dude who serves as the cook on a spaceship but can morph into a badass alien creature when fighting time arrives, then show him immediately fall in love with our heroine, like, the instant he meets her, and then show him behave all mealy-mouthed and whiny when his job requires that he do terrible things to said heroine, only to have people show up in later books and tell us that this dude was The Ultimate in cold, badass motherfuckers until he met (of course) the heroine. I agree that that last bit makes for a more interesting story (although it’s such a cliche), but it’s not the one we were told from the beginning of book one, so it doesn’t work. Rupert was shown to be kind of a weak man in books one and two, so his weakness as the series progresses doesn’t feel like the drastic character change his friends claim it is.

And it undermines the romance, which, by the beginning of book two, is the central, angsty focus of the series. When you write a romance, it’s like… OK. Brace yourself for a truly terrible simile, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ready? It’s like a latte. You can spend as much time as you need selecting your ingredients and anticipating what it will taste like, but once you heat the milk, you have to drink it while it’s hot. You can’t re-heat milk that has been sitting at room temperature because there’s a high risk of exposure to harmful bacteria. If you’re planning to re-heat it, you MUST refrigerate it so that the milk is properly cold again, and then you may re-heat it ONCE. If it cools again, it’s garbage that will give you food poisoning. This series reheats that milk like fourteen fucking times, and it’s only three books long. You’re generally allowed ONE break-up over the course of a series, and the characters really have to earn the right to be together again after that. If the characters get back together and break up again, the audience loses faith in the viability of that couple, and you need to move on. Devi and Rupert could have moved on after they first split up early in Fortune’s Pawn and then managed to get back together in book three–I’d have bought that, because they would have realized, through being apart, that they were better together. But instead we get this tepid slog that goes on and on and just will not stop being boring.

It wasn’t just Rupert and the romance, though. I wanted more of Devi fighting in her robot suit (why is it always across the room being cleaned when she needs it? She’s the best mercenary in the known universe; this ain’t her first rodeo). I wanted her not to be terrible to her former lover when he shows up on what he believes is a rescue mission. I really wanted the child slavery aspects to resolve differently. I wanted a lot of things I can’t mention because they are major spoilers. Ultimately, Heaven’s Queen just massively disappointed me (although it still gets three stars because it is a Space Adventure Book). I don’t think I’ve ever been more bummed about my status as a black sheep.

Have you read any of the Paradox series yet? Do you agree with me about Romance Botulism? Let me know in the comments. (FYI: I am vacationing in Paris this month, and I don’t have great access to regular internet, so I may take a while to respond to comments.)

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.







19 Responses to “Heaven’s Queen: Review”

  1. Daenielle

    i never know this book before. thanks for the review i’ll try to find a copy if ever. :)

  2. Kin

    …crap. I reheat my lattes, like, a million times. From room temp. I guess this is a good sign that I should stop.

    I liked (but didn’t love) the first book. I wasn’t sold on the romance, which is why I haven’t picked up the second one. Now it’s looking like I just might not finish the series. ):

    • Kate Bond

      If you’re not sold on the romance, it’s tough. It’s freaking awesome if you are, though, apparently.

      And STOP reheating your lattes like that! You will get sick!

    • Kate Bond

      Not even just an ass–a freaking criminal! It’s crazy! In the most recent season of Vampire Diaries, Elena DATES a guy who REPEATEDLY RAPED her best friend in season one! Bananas!

  3. Pili

    YAY for vacation on Paris!!
    It’s such a bummer that a series that you liked had such a tepid and irritating next-in-series as this one. I hadn’t heard of this series before, but I understand perfectly what you mean by sometimes series going off in the character ARCs, how they seem to be someone and then change without any good explanation…
    I’m not very much intrigued about this series now, too many books & too little time for something with the kind of issues that this one seems to have.
    Great honest review, Kate!
    Pili recently posted…Ink & Batter #1: Splintered by A.G. Howard!!

    • Kate Bond

      It’s so nice here! It just rains and rains, every day. Just lovely.

      This has happened to me with a few other series, too–sometimes the author just finds different things about the characters/story interesting from what I do. Oh, well.

  4. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    I just finished Honor’s Knight yesterday, and I have to admit . . . I am not looking forward to Heaven’s Queen as much as I was. To be completely honest, I wasn’t as excited about it as I thought I would be anyway. It was clear by the end of book 2 that a reconciliation was imminently probable, and I wanted Devi to stay PISSED. I mean seriously! You know what he did, trick or not, just NO. And all of the points Devi made about his choices and priorities–you don’t just get all that kind of thing. Not if you’re the badass that Devi is supposed to be. Boooo. Kick him to the curb, son!
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

    • Kate Bond

      I know. I know I know I know. And he’s soooooo whiny about it!

      The only aspect of reconciliation that I agree with is that if you love someone and they do something terrible (I mean, truly terrible in this case, right?) you have to either forgive them and move forward or recognize that you can’t forgive and move on. And maybe since Devi is a person who does terrible, violent things for her job, it makes sense for her to be more ok with that type of thing than a normal person would be.

      And Rupert does show that he’s changed, but I don’t think I’d be able to trust that, and also, OMG the WHINING.

  5. Wendy Darling

    Oh man, you totally outdid yourself on this review, Kate! You’ve explained so clearly why this story didn’t work for you, and you made me LOL-cats while doing it.

    I am sad that you didn’t enjoy this last installment, but I’m crossing my fingers that since I didn’t mind the romance as much as you, I’ll still like it. I see Bonnie agrees with you, though…hmm.

    • Kate Bond

      Bonnie and I are pretty much the only ones, Wendy, so you have pretty good odds of liking it. It is much, much slower than the first two, though, regardless of how you feel about the romance.

  6. Joy (Joyousreads)

    I’ve seen some wonderful reviews for this book; unfortunately, as much as the heroine seems unapologetically real (robot suit or not), I’m am not a fan. Also, I would be honest enough to admit that yes, I will be more than likely to look for romance in a book. So this is probably not going to be my type of read.

    Great review, Kate. :)
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Photo Vomit [#9] More Vintage Penguins

    • Kate Bond

      The weird thing for me, Joy, is that a lot of people LOVE the romance in this series. I read a crazy amount of actual romance novels, though, and I wonder whether that hasn’t made me a little bit pickier about how romantic elements are handled outside the Romance genre.

  7. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    Oh, Kate. You hit the nail on the head with this review. I also gave this 3 stars so we can both bask in the glory of our black sheep-ness.

    Romance Botulism. FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. I also wanted much more of Devi fighting in her robot suit. More punching and action and all that crazy intense stuff that went to Fortune’s Pawn, please. The fact that the book spent like 85% on the romance is so terrible because there was such an awesome storyline going on that we didn’t need that filler crap! I completely agree that Rupert’s change and immediately falling for Devi was a tad over the top but it still managed to work for me and I did like them together. That doesn’t mean I wanted the last book to be all about them because they weren’t THAT awesome. This was a massive disappointment for me as well and I’m glad I’ve found someone that agrees. Fabulous review. :)
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1) by Cherie Priest

    • Kate Bond

      Thanks, Bonnie. I had such a hard time figuring out my rating, because I loved the first two books SO MUCH.

      It really, really, really felt like filler. I read the first two books in one day, just straight in a row, and this one took me about a week to slog through.

      And I still don’t know how I feel about the way things were resolved with the Daughters.