Survivor literally starts with a bang as Nova’s ship, Crusader, loses its fuel cells. “Loses” meaning exploded leaving people stranded in space. Nova is a bounty hunter and I’m instantly reminded of Samus Aran from the Metroid series. Like Samus, Nova is a lone wolf flying through space looking to claim reward money by (re)capturing intergalactic criminals. Leaking fuel and having fifteen dollars to her name, she seeks the closest bounty in order to pay for the repairs to her ship. I drew another comparison to Cowboy Bebop that had a recurring theme of perpetually broke bounty hunters struggling to keep their ship together.
As luck would have it, the planet Archalon is within range with two criminals that would bring in enough to pay for Crusader’s repairs. She heads there only to find that a battalion of Confederacy troops is already on the planet. The Confederacy is much like what one would imagine when they think of Confederacy in regards to science fiction – A militant, old-government, heavily armed band of asses. She finds that they are on a mission to excavate what they believe will bring them ultimate power. And as expected, it all goes bad.
Survivor then takes a turn to be almost non-stop action. Not only did it flow well, Bryant also paints amazing imagery in the world Archalon. The details from the feel of the sand to the moons in the sky was well written and detailed without detracting from the solid pace of the action. It could also be quite visceral in regards to the violence, however, it fit with the theme of the book.
I came across Survivor in a review swap where Bryant described her book as a “Tomb Raider in space”. I feel like this actually does Survivor a disservice. Unlike Lara Croft, Nova is more real and vulnerable to what she experiences, a nice show of dimension that debunked my original perception that she'd be some hard-ass, non feeling robot as she blasted her way through hordes of aliens. She’s still a hard-ass though.
As I mentioned, I read this as a review swap, but I enjoyed this story very much and will without a doubt read the sequel, Pilgrim.