A review of Only Hard Problems by Jennifer Estep – out earlier this year

Lots of fun, but the ending is way too abrupt…

Only Hard Problems is the third “book” in Jennifer Estep’s Galactic Bonds series, written from the point of view of one of the previous apparent villains, Zane Zimmer.   And it is a lot of fun to get into Zane’s head, and find out he’s much more complex than he appeared in the first two books.   (See my reviews here and here.)  But there’s a reason I put “book” in quotes up above, and it’s because Only Hard Problems doesn’t really feel like a finished book, or even a finished novella.

I’m not saying “unfinished” in the sense of “having lots of grammar errors” or “needing better editing”.  It’s fine on those counts.  It’s just that Only Hard Problems ends – at least for me – in an abrupt and unsatisfactory way.  It does tee up some interesting storylines:  wondering what Zane will do with his newfound knowledge of his half-sister, and figuring out what’s up with Lady Asterin and the Erztons.   And as a middle book, moving the story along is a big part of its job.  But even knowing it was a middle book, once I got to the end, I kept looking, and looking again, thinking I must be missing at least a chapter or two.

Also please don’t get me wrong – other than the ending, Only Hard Problems was quite enjoyable.  After writing some urban fiction, and some romantasy, and a few books I can’t quite characterize (Section 47, I’m looking at you), Estep has moved smoothly into space opera.  And Only Hard Problems definitely kept me reading.  I’m just second-guessing, perhaps, Estep’s choice of where to put the break between books, especially given that there is another book coming out this October.    So hopefully once that one comes out, I can just go back and read the two together, straight through, and it will feel better.

I did struggle a bit with how to rate Only Hard Problems.   What there was of it, I liked a lot (5 stars), but the ending was kind of annoying (3 stars).    So I’m going to average it out at four stars, and be quite hopeful for the next book in the series.   And finally, my thanks to the author for the review copy.

Buy:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo US | Kobo UK | Kobo Canada


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