Tracer by Rob Boffard

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Tracer by Rob Boffard

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Old Earth is dead and New Earth is not much better off when terrorists attack this orbiting space station. Riley Hale is just a simple Tracer trying to do her job, but one package she carries may hold the key to the future of both Earths. Join her in this frantic science fiction book that refuses to stop for anything.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 448 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780356505138

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Just because the Earth has been destroyed does not mean that humans are now extinct. As a bunch, humans are resourceful, so rather than sit on a dying Earth we all pack our bags and get a place on the orbiting station called New Earth. However, after a couple of hundred years the old space station is starting to feel a little cramped and appears to be falling to pieces. What is the common link to both Earth and New Earth being destroyed? Perhaps it is time someone did something about these pesky humans who ruin everything.

Riley Hale is a Tracer, these are the unofficial couriers of New Earth, their job is to deliver precious packages across the three miles or so of the space station without being killed by the various gangs that populate the different zones. Riley is on a typical deadly job when she mistakenly sees inside one of the packages only to find an eye staring back. This small blunder is enough to throw her into a conspiracy that spans not only New Earth, but Old Earth too.

It is strange that a book can sometimes take on the characteristics of its main protagonist; some noirs have the smoky and relaxed feel of their hero, whilst some action books take on the intensity of their central jock. Tracer is a book that has Riley Hale at its centre and author Rob Boffard certainly takes her to heart. This is a character who is always on the edge and always on the run. The book reflects this, never stopping, no time to breath, always moving forwards. This can be great fun for a sequence or two, but an entire book struggles to maintain it.

Tracer is a helter-skelter of a book that never thinks to slow down for a short period and reflect a little on what is actually going on. The world of New Earth is very interesting and you can imagine that an ageing futuristic space station may start to rely once again on human couriers as the machines begin to break down. All this is very interesting, but Boffard does not explore the world too much. Instead, he takes us on a frantic action-adventure that is hard to understand at times, as things move on so fast.

The pace of the book feels a little naïve and the use of clichés and flat characters also does not help. The enemies in the book are very dark and the heroes light; the white and black nature of the book means that it feels more like juvenile literature than adult fiction. For those looking for an airy read that does not challenge, there are some fun action moments in Tracer and the concept of New Earth is a good one. It is a shame then that the story is a little light, the characters a little undercooked and the pace a little too frantic.

If you are looking for space-based science fiction that paces the action better you can try The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher or try Lock In by John Scalzi for some intelligent ideas about a future Earth.

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Buy Tracer by Rob Boffard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tracer by Rob Boffard at


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