Friday, 17 July 2015


Title: Tracer
Author: Rob Boffard
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release Date: 2nd July 2015

BLURB from Goodreads


Our planet is in ruins. Three hundred miles above its scarred surface orbits Outer Earth: a space station with a million souls on board. They are all that remain of the human race.

Darnell is the head of the station's biotech lab. He's also a man with dark secrets. And he has ambitions for Outer Earth that no one will see coming.

Prakesh is a scientist, and he has no idea what his boss Darnell is capable of. He'll have to move fast if he doesn't want to end up dead.

And then there's Riley. She's a tracer - a courier. For her, speed is everything. But with her latest cargo, she's taken on more than she bargained for.

A chilling conspiracy connects them all.

The countdown has begun for Outer Earth - and for mankind

Amazon UK


I wasn't totally sure about this one when Clara told me about it, but my daughter said she thought I might enjoy it, so I decided to give it a go. I wondered if it would be like Beth Revis' Across the Universe or Amy Kathleen Ryan's Sky Chasers series which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was hoping it wouldn't be like Star Trek like or Star Wars like because I tend to find those types of book/TV Show a little boring, and a bit mind numbing too. So I'm hoping this is a more character led, and society based.

I initially heard about this  book from press officer Clara Diaz. I then requested an e-arc on Netgalley which I received free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 
The cover is basically like a slightly out of focus image of outer space. The word Tracer stands out on the cover as it is bright white against the more murky background. There's a circle, which I initially thought it looked a little too sticker like, however after reading the book, I'd say it represents another planet, maybe even the sun. The red circle contains the following words "The Countdown has begun" which is a phrase used by one of the main characters in this book called Oren Darnell. In addiction to this there is also a subtitle/byline which say's "In Space, Every, Second, Counts." which is another important phrase that describes quite a few scenes and parts within the book.
So would the cover make me pick this one up from a bookstore shelf? Truthfully I'm not sure it would. The phrase "In Space, Every, Second, Counts." would pull on my curiosity, so I would then go on to read the blurb. Would the cover alone make me pick this one up from a bookstore shelf? Being totally frank, no. 
The setting of this book is on a larger space station/ship called the Outer Space. Outer Earth is a very large craft that it split into sectors Apex, Garden's, Chendsi, Apogee, New Germany and Tsevya. Apex is where those in high positions live, such as the council, including the head of the council Janice Okwembu. So I suppose I need to tell you why everyone is on board this large space vessel. The Earth was ruined by the human race. The earth could no longer provide what it human residents needed so they left it, to hopefully regenerate whilst they lived on the Outer Earth. Some would say it was human's greed and their own actions that ruined earth, and that humans didn't deserve to survive and continue to thrive in the relative safely of Outer Earth.
Now to the book and plot itself. The book is told by three of the main characters, the head of the biotech lab, Oren Darnell, a man who is fairly high on the totem pole on Outer Earth. He is a scary man to get on the wrong side of. He likes the power that comes with his job and is not adverse to using his position to intimidate others around him into doing his bidding. He is a rather odd man who turns out to be even more strange and dark than his peers could ever imagine. Oren even has his own bodyguard called Reece. The second point of view is from what you would probably say more of a middle class person within the society on Outer Earth, is Prakesh Kumar. Prakesh , his mother Achala Kumar and father Ravi Kumar live in what would be considered to be in the rather well off sector os Gardens. Achala and Ravi once headed the construction teams of Outer Earth. Prakesh is a lab technician in the Food and Air Lab, so has a good steady job that he enjoys doing. He prefers to be left alone to get on with his work steering well clear of the politics and nastiness that becoming more apparent as the Outer Earth travels through space.  Oren Darnell is Prakesh's boss. The third and final point of view is by Riley Hale once lived in assigned living quarters with her mother and father. Both of her parents are now dead leaving Riley alone to fend for herself,  she has become a tracer. A tracer is basically a messenger/courier, that he/she delivers items or messages from one sector to another in exchange for food or items that she can barter at the market for foods. Riley is good at what she does, she was trained by the head of the Devil Dancers Amira. The Devil Dancers consist of Amira, the leader. Carver the tech guy, Kev the large muscle of the gang and his slight but almost acrobatic twin Yao. It's a small compact gang that has a good reputation of delivering as promised without question. The best Tracers never even know what they are delivering, they don't need to know.  They just transport the packages without question. The dangerous part of being a Tracer is making your delivery whilst avoiding being attacked or mugged by another gang. Riley and the Devil Dancers are excellent at what they do. It's only when Tracer, Riley quite accidentally break the rules on a weird impulse after being attacked and takes a look at what she is delivering to Oren Darnell one day that  everything changes and the trouble begins. 
There is a growing movement on Outer Earth that call themselves "Son's Of Earth". They believe that humans are the cause of Earth literally dying off. They think that humanity needs to be extinct, the want humans to die out. They have faith that mass voluntary euthanasia id the only way that earth will ever regenerate.
So I've sort of given you an idea about the politics and the feelings of the residents on Outer Earth. I do not wish to reveal any spoilers at all. This book does initially sort of plod along at a slow pace, a pace that I found a little too slow for me to be honest. Having said that the book is worth staying with, once the pace starts to build up, so does the suspense and then you end up flying through some of the chapters. I loved the characters of Riley and Prakesh. As well as the action, thriller, suspense side of the book you do learn a little more about their individual backgrounds as well as their friendship that has grown over the years. Could it turn into something more? Will they both survive long enough to perhaps take their feelings further into a less platonic relationship?
There is so much going on in this book, it's hard not to go on and on. I adored the ethic and "one for all" mantra that the Devil Dancers have, though there is a shock to be revealed about one member of the gang.
I think the book will appeal to both male and female readers, and as I have said it has action, drama, mystery, suspense, betrayal of trust, conspiracy and much more. I enjoyed the whole search for Grace Gardner, the desperation and lengths that Riley had to go through to find the woman, then just when she thinks she is safe and can relax things kick off again.
I also thought the showdown between Oren Darnell and Riley Hale was a real nail biter, edge of seat chapter or so.
I also just want to add that I would always say I am not a great fan of Science Fiction set on space ships. I hold my hands up I would also say I would not watch Star Wars or Star Trek, though I do remember watching Lost In Space, a more "tongue in cheek science fiction comedy" with my favourite Uncle when I was much younger (in the 70's & 80s). This book I should admit has opened my eyes a little and opened my mind a lot to the Science Fiction genre. 
So Did I enjoy the book? I did eventually but to be totally truthful I did almost give up on the book. I'm now glad I read it to the end as it got much better as it progressed.                       Would I recommend the book? If you are willing to stick with the book through it's slower sections, and can deal with the complexities of this plot then this is a great read for you. Would I want to read a second book with these characters? This book could go either way, with how the book ended it could be a stand alone. Then again maybe there could be another book with perhaps Prakesh and Riley in higher roles on Outer Earth and together they could rebuild the society and prosper. Maybe one day returning to a regenerated earth. Would I want to read other books by this author? I would certainly take a closer look at any title written by this author.


Who/What/How did you get your ideas for your book Tracer?
I’ve been working as a journalist for the past decade, and a few years ago I came to the slow realisation that I enjoyed the writing more than I did the actual reporting. At the time, I was playing around with the idea of the space slum; I’ve always loved space, and I was thinking about what it would be like to live there. That idea just kept turning over and over in my mind. I started thinking about the problems they’d face, and one of those was public transport. Not only is it pretty hard to design something like that to begin with, but if the space station is up there with any length of time, it’s bound to break down.

In a society like that, a solution would spring up organically. In this case, human couriers. From there, it was a short leap to going “Hey, this would make a kick-ass story!”

Did you have to do any research for Tracer? If so what/how did you do it?
Huge amounts. You can’t really muck about in space without knowing what you’re doing, so although the story was going to come right out my head, it needed a solid place to land. That meant going to talk to an actual rocket scientist, down at Kingston University in south London. It meant going to talk to an entomologist, and a fusion specialist. It meant calling up some of my old parkour buddies to help me work out how my couriers would move. And it meant writing all this down, transcribing it, and working out how the hell I was going to make it all work.

If you had to choose to be a character from Tracer, which would you be and why?
Cool question. I won’t say Riley, because I put so much of myself into her anyway. If I really have to pick, I’d say Sam Royo – the cop who helps the Devil Dancers. He started off as a very minor character, but the more I wrote him, the more I liked the guy. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of being a grizzled cop who knows the score.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for Tracer ? Who designed the Cover of your books?
I am absolutely terrible at titles, as every editor who has asked me to come up with a headline has discovered. Tracer (originally Tracers, plural) was one of my rare good ideas; it’s a slight corruption of the French word Traceur, which is a practitioner of parkour. I knocked out the cover one night after about ten tequilas and a hit of really high-grade mescaline… no, wait, that’s wrong. My man Nico Taylor was the one who did it. I just had the tequilas and the mescaline.

In all seriousness, Nico is a genius. He made it shine.

Are the character names and place names decided after creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent their personality/traits?
I haven’t really thought about it. Occasionally a name will come organically the moment the character pops into my head, but sometimes I’ll just use a placeholder name. I try not to sweat that too much, as it is so easy to change if I’m not feeling it. I guess in some ways that means that the character’s personality dictates their name.

If Tracer were to be made into a movie, do you have any actors in mind to play the Devil Dancers Crew, and Olen Darnell and Prakesh Kumar?
My editor Anna is gunning for Jennifer Lawrence to play Riley, but if this ever gets made into a movie, I’d love it if an unknown actress could take the role. Even someone like Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the Hunger Games and actually has a little bit of parkour training in her background - although for the record, if J-Law is available, she should give me a call. Dev Patel would be a killer Prakesh - and Anna struck gold when she suggested Javier Bardem as Darnell. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no-one else.

So starting from top left, either Jennifer Lawrence (top left) or Amandla Stenberg (top right) for the part of Riley. Then bottom left Dev Patel to play Prakesh and finishing up with Javier Bardem (bottom right) to play the character of Darnell.

Well I totally agree with Rob Boffard that Amandla Stenberg would be perfect for Riley! Maybe Jennifer Lawrence could play the leader of the Devil Dancers, Amira. I agree with the two male charcter castings as I can't really think of anyone else better. I would like the Devil Dancer Kev to be played by Kellen Lutz, I'm yet to come across actors/actresses for the rest of the Devil Dancers!
Have you read the book yet? What do you think? Any actor/actresses ideas?

Is Tracer the first book in a series or a standalone?
It’s a series. A trilogy, to be more exact. I got to the end of the first book and realised that I wasn’t nearly close to done telling the story.

How many more books can we expect in the Series?
At least three. It’s going to take me that many to tell Riley’s story, but I’m certainly open to returning to Outer Earth.

Do you have a name in mind for the rest of the series?
It’s called the Outer Earth trilogy.

Do you have the whole series planned out now or is it still a work in progress?
All planned out. Actually, all written; I’m doing rewrites on the third book now. So yeah, I got it all in my head, which is a problem because now there is nothing else in there and I’m having trouble…sorry, what was the question again?

Will there be any novella’s as part of the Tracer Series?
Possibly. In the gap between books one and two, I wrote a bunch of short stories focusing on different characters on Outer Earth. Those aren’t quite novella length, but I’d love them to see the light of day at some point.

When you wrote Tracer, had you already planned that it would be part of a series?
Not at all. I’ve never written a novel before, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But I just got to the end of the first book, and looked at where Riley was, and what she’d been through, and realised that she was part of a much bigger story.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and answering my nosey Author Interview Questions about your book! I loved reading it and am looking forward to the next one being available!

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