Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review: Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Tags: YA, sci-fi, Mars


Durango is a self-employed ex-Regulator on the scrappy future colony of Mars. He has an AI implanted in his brain and does random odd jobs in his hi-tech “armor” suit. His next job leads him to a group of miners trying to protect themselves from the Draeu, scary human-like creatures with a penchant for violence and distruction. Should be no sweat, right?

But even Durango can’t prepare for what he’s gotten himself into.


Have you heard of Firefly, the sci-fi/western Joss Whedon-directed TV show that’s arguably one of the best shows ever produced? BLACK HOLE SUN is very much like Firefly, which is both good and challenging: the book has a similar sense of humor, characterization, and setting, but is hard-pressed to live up to its fantastic inspiration.

The best thing about BLACK HOLE SUN is hands-down Durango’s voice. He’s a definite Captain Mal Reynolds: once an accomplished academy member turned self-employed rogue, with all the snarkily pragmatic disaffection that such a position nurtures. He and his AI, his cheeky former boss Mimi, provide neverending amounts of conversational back-and-forths, you know, the sort you always wish you could engage in in real life but could never real pull off except with multiple revisions. Durango’s witty dialogue takes center stage and never fails to leave you chuckling, even as the plot plods and the other characters don’t shine as brightly.

Indeed, BLACK HOLE SUN sometimes feels like it relies too much on the appeal of Durango’s voice to pay more attention to other important elements of story. It’s slow-going, the plot: the main conflict doesn’t even arise until almost halfway through the book, and even then it meanders so much that oftentimes I found myself scratching my head and wondering if there was anything, anything at all, going on. The supporting characters are way less developed. With the exception of Vienne, Durango’s right hand and maybe-maybe-not love interest, the other characters don’t really stand out or make much of a lasting impression.

If you read BLACK HOLE SUN, read it for its brilliant voice, one of the most unique ones out there currently in YA lit. It’s no Firefly, but if you’re okay with a slower plot, then you get to focus on the brilliance that is Durango’s character.

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I like how it's simple and straightforward in that block-text sort of way, only without the blocky-ish text. But you have got to check it out in person. It's printed on some sort of black paper that turns streaks of rainbow when you hold it up to a light at the right angle. So ridiculously cool.

HarperCollins / Aug. 24, 2010 / Hardcover / 340pp. / $16.99

Copy bought.


  1. Awesome--loved Firefly! And Black Hole Sun is staring at me from the top of my TBR pile. Yep. Reading it next now.

    Thanks for the great review!
    The BOok Swarm

  2. My critique partner just loaned me this book--looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the review!

  3. I totally fail at life... I still need to watch Firefly! I watched Dollhouse when that used to be on TV (so sad it's not on anymore).

    Either way, this book sounds interesting and I haven't heard of it before, so thanks for the heads up! :)

  4. I actually have this out of the library right now and am really looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the reminder about it!

  5. I haven't seen Firefly, but I want to merely becuase it has Nathan Fillon and I love him as Castle :)

    I thought Soul Enchilada was a fun read so I'll give this one a go. Sounds like David McGinnis excels at creating unique, wisecracking main characters. Which always makes for amusing reads. I ALWAYS think of comebacks after I'm done talking to someone. haha

  6. Since I haven't seen Firefly yet perhaps I can read the book and watch the inspiration afterwards? :)

    Great review, Steph Su.

  7. Although I (almost) never comment on reviews, your comment about multiple edits on dialogue compelled me.

    Honestly, the conversations between Durango and Mimi are virtually unedited from the first draft: I'm as big a smartass in real conversations as my characters are in print.


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