The main reason is the narrative structure - it's a dual narrative that comes together in the last third of the book. Boss tells her story in first person present, a difficult POV for those used to the traditional 3rd person past. The other narrative is about Squishy (not the most endearing of nicknames, imo) and is 3rd person, but not traditionally told - there are numerous flashbacks that span years, which can throw the reader for a loop. Rusch is an excellent writer, so she pulls it off (thematically tying the flashbacks to present day), but reading this novel is like sitting down to a ten-course meal when you thought you were invited over for a picnic. Star Wars it is not - although we do have an Empire and (a Nine Planets) Alliance.
A second reason this isn't an easy read is that the flashbacks and backstory, while interesting, are a slow build to the faster paced last third of the book. I like a bit more action in my space opera, but again, the author knows how to tell a complex story and does it well. It's just that this book feels like a long interlude to the next book in the series. Which leads to the final reason I struggled with this novel a bit. And that is it's the third and latest book in what Rusch calls the Diving series. While this book is a stand alone, I gather that the first two books (which I didn't read, but probably should have) provide most of the background, characters, setting, and situation (space diving old wrecks) necessary to fully appreciate this one.
That being said, Boneyards (referring to a graveyard of abandoned ships that Boss and her team will eventually dive and salvage for the benefit of the Alliance) does shine as a solid example of science fiction adventure. After struggling through the opening chapters, it intrigued this reviewer enough to want to go back and catch the two previous stories as well as follow Boss and her team back to the Boneyards when the next novel is released. I rate it 4 Stars.
(Note: I bought my paperback copy of Boneyards at our local B&N.)
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