Review: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

I received this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

This review is going up later than I would like because I have been sick for about three weeks. I’ve had two covid swabs, and every time I think I’m getting better I go backwards. I’m including this to explain why I haven’t posted recently, and also why it took me so long to review this book, because I really enjoyed it and actually read it fairly quickly. I finished the last half or so in one day, and the action-packed pacing is just one of the cool things about You Sexy Thing.

I like the cover. It’s interesting, gets the tone across, and doesn’t involve gratuitous boobs. 10/10

Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.

Just when they thought they were out…

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

I feel like 2022 so far has been a very sci-fi heavy month, and I’ve been enjoying it. I really like the social commentary present in a lot of sci fi, and You Sexy Thing is no exception. Despite the name, this book is not a romance (though, as with most fiction, there are romantic sub-plots) and I liked the way this book critiqued war, imperialism, classism, racism and more. Some of the commentary is more up front (The Holy Hive Mind being the prime example), while others (the language and social barriers faced by sentient people resembling earth animals) are more integrated into the world-building.

Niko was an amazing main character and I really liked the setting of a fine-dining restaurant stocked by ex-military staff. I think it’s a set-up that has huge potential, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. I can’t list every character I thought was amazing (it’d be pretty much all of them) but I particularly liked Niko, Atlanta, Darby, Talon and Thorn, the Thing and the way they all interacted as friends, members of a team, and operatives under Niko’s command.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Lassite’s prophecies, as I feel they took away from the suspense as much as added to it. However, I have to admit my bias in the situation. I’m never a huge fan of prophecy or time travel in books, as I think they rarely add to a story. It can be done well, and I don’t think most people would take issue with how it is done in You Sexy Thing. I also think there was a couple of coincidences in the storyline that strained belief a little, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they are explained further in future novels. The first book in a series always has a hard time of telling an engaging story in its own right, while also laying the foundation for what is to come. I think You Sexy Thing strikes a good balance between the two, I am just (as always) impatient to know more.

Some of the first sci-fi novels I ever read were Anne McCaffrey’s Ship Who Sang series, and I adored the Thing’s additions to this book. I loved the diversity of characters in general, and the representation of gender and sexual minorities was incredible. I think in science fiction especially, racial, sexual or gender homogeneity is less explainable than a joyful array of sexuality and gender, and I always like to read the variations that authors come up with. I also liked the world building surrounding religion, the sourcing of food/eating of meat, clones and sentience.

Overall, I really enjoyed You Sexy Thing and I think things wrapped up well. I was surprised that some issues never came to a head in this book, but as a lover of long series, I am not mad in the slightest. However, if you prefer stand-alone novels or episodic plots with all loose ends tied up by the end of the book, be warned, there is some fairly major unfinished business at the end of this novel.

I think You Sexy Thing would appeal to people who would prefer a less maths based alternative to Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire or the Cas Russel series by SL Huang; to people who enjoyed The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong; to lovers of classic sci fi with a fun, fast-paced take; and to anyone who enjoyed the found-family heist feel of Six of Crows, but would prefer a few more space battles and explosions.

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