Killing Gravity (Voidwitch Saga #1) by Corey J. White – Book Review

killing gravityKilling Gravity by Corey J. White is a science-fiction, space opera novella that is the first book in the Voidwitch Saga series that I snagged at the library recently because it sounded bloody brilliant. I love a good space opera, and when it exceeds expectations, I’m ready to throw a party in its honour.

Killing Gravity follows Mariam Xi, who spent her youth in a laboratory where she was raised to be a psychic soldier. After escaping, she spent her life on the run. But when a supposedly dead blast-from-the-past resurfaces, Mariam stops running to get answers that have plagued her for years; answers that will take her down the dark and bloody path of vengeance.

This book kicked serious ass. It is marketed for fans of Firefly, but even then I never, in my wildest dreams, hoped it would turn out to be this interesting. The book is just shy of one-hundred-eighty pages and contains within it remarkable world-building, brutal action, diverse characters, and a fiercely fallible protagonist that ticked me off while making me root for her; elements that vast space opera epics and long-volume serials can’t even touch. Check out this opening line, for starters. How can you not want to read something that begins as such?

Trying to comprehend a whole star system while my ship bleeds atmosphere?  There are worse ways to die.”

The reason I probably adored this opening liner is because it reminds me so much of the character Koko Martstellar from Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea, which is one of my favourite cyberpunk novels out there. Koko was a badass with a vulgar tongue and Mariam is no exception. Both ladies also tend to get themselves involved in some intense, blow-shit-up type of situations, which I will always consume with a fiery hunger.

One of the initial qualities that I came to appreciate within the first twenty to fifty pages was the world-building and pacing. While every single ounce of technology may not be explained tooth-and-nail, it is easy to decipher what they are based on how the characters interact with those tools or equipment or weapons. Their surroundings were given great detail and further enhanced by being an interactive part of the scene. Most of the backdrops and atmosphere were integral portions of story progression, used to help the reader understand what was about to happen and/or why. I love it when a narrative does that. It creates a multi-dimensional reading experience that pulls me in. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in my other reviews, but escapist-level tales are the fucking best.

Normally, the expectation is that ambiance and universe building take the forefront with pacing being a sacrificial lamb to it. However, in Killing Gravity, due to the intensity of one thing going horribly wrong after another, I never felt a slack in the progression. It just keeps on sling-shooting me onto the next ride. The level of descriptives work to prevent it from feeling super rushed or underwhelming. They accompany one another in a near-perfect balance, which is rather impressive for a novella that’s also a debut book synchronously.

The writing style is the main reason everything works so well together. From the very first page, I was caught in a net where I was rooting for Mariam to survive. There’s a lot of technical talk, but none of it is intellectually over-bearing or excessive. It’s absorbing and very easy to understand and take in. Because of this, I feel Killing Gravity would be a good story for folks who are new to the space opera subgenre of sci-fi, or people who’ve never read science-fiction, but would like to, specifically where space is concerned. White’s depiction of the characters’ thoughts and feelings and senses also make it captivating and contribute to an unputdownable crux.

Looking at Squid, I see that the soft, flowing luminescence beneath their skin is bright and pulsing. I look out beyond the cockpit window, and for a split second, I swear I can see shape or texture out in the abyss, but then we’re out of the wormhole and I inhale sharply.

It’s beautiful.”

The story itself, at it’s very centre, may not be a wholly original premise, yet the special abilities that Mariam has, coupled with the antagonist and some of the atmospheric facets of the universe, breathes some fresh air into the vengeance and the antihero tropes simultaneously. While I can see the inspiration behind the ships, Mariam’s persona and skill-set, and even the battle sequences, it’s not a full rip off other sci-fi works.

The action, as aforementioned, is vicious and graphic and unforgiving in its vivid imagery. If you’re someone who doesn’t like supremely detailed visages of blood and gore, then you will want to steer clear of this novella. It’s nearly jam-packed with it. I fucking love that shite. Most of the time, gory parts tend to be gratuitous, or a way to give a story more meat and filler while it lacks in other areas. But in Killer Gravity, the violence is a necessary part in delivering the scope of Mariam’s capabilities, while also illustrating the inhumane predilection of the villains.

Other things to note that are pleasant include a ridiculously cute cat creature of sorts, great representation of a non-binary character, one incredible space battle, the emotional frailty of Mariam Xi, and the overall unputdownable essence of the narrative.

If there are things that I didn’t care for, or wish were better, it would include Mariam’s interaction with one very specific individual. They sprouted up for a brief moment and then that entire scene just ended way too fucking quickly. It’s the only part of the entire book that I felt was unfairly rushed, probably in an attempt to get shite rolling towards the powerful climax. Either way, I wished it had more attention and form to it than it was given.

A second element I wish the first book had was more character building, however. With that said, I understand that this is going to be a series, so it works more as an introduction—showing the main cast players, a basic overview of the overarching conflict, etc.—and, as such, not everything is going to be flawlessly fleshed out. I recognise that and I’m going to keep that in mind when I got into book two. I hope by then, we will start getting more depth, because with a story as wonderful as this, having flat and singularly defined characters will kill it completely.

All in all, Killing Gravity is a gratifying space opera novella and a glorious book one to what I hope shall be a splendidly badass science-fiction series. If you’re in the market for brilliant adult sci-fi, please go read Killing Gravity. It’s so bloody worth it.

4.25 cat critters outta 5!


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6 thoughts on “Killing Gravity (Voidwitch Saga #1) by Corey J. White – Book Review

  1. Well, as I mentioned to you earlier, I was looking forward to the review for this book, and now that it’s hear and I have just read it I guess there is only one thing left to say here: I need this book in my life, and this post kicked serious ass too (okay, sorry, that was actually two things lol 😂).
    Seriously though: I love space opera, and hopefully the next book in this saga is going to be just as cool as this one: fingers crossed! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I highly recommend it!! It’s a short read too, so you don’t have to worry about devoting a ton of time to it, which is something I appreciated as a workaholic with little time haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: November’s Reading Wrap-Up! (2018) | BiblioNyan

  3. Pingback: Void Black Shadow (Voidwitch Saga #2) by Corey J. White – Book Review | BiblioNyan

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