They say it’s not the fall that kills you.
For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.
On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat’s own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.
So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?
There are few things in life more satisfying than reading an incredible book you got for free. (Yay, giveaways!) Robin Bennis’ The Guns Above is a jam-packed, military fantasy adventure about sexism and friendship. I’ve rarely read a book so fast. If I didn’t work full-time, I probably would’ve finished it in a day.
There are many awesome things about this book. The first is the characters themselves. Every single one of them is a sarcastic smartass. None more so than the two main characters: Josette and Bernat. It is beautiful.
Normally I’m not a fan of cliches or tropes. This book has managed to find one of the very few tropes I like, the Sexist Pig Spends Time With Awesome Woman And Stops Being A Sexist Pig narrative arc, and it does it very well. Bernat is horrible at the start of the book: spoiled, misogynistic, a complete and total idiot. By the end of the book, he’s still spoiled, but a hell of a lot less misogynistic and a bit more intelligent. You go from hating his guts the first page you meet him to wanting to hug him at the end.
Josette herself is one of those amazing, kickass military women who does a spectacular job of hiding all of her insecurities and doubts. She has zero tolerance for incompetence from anyone, including her superior officers and herself. In a world that is 100% patriarchal and full of people who want to bring her down, she is her own harshest critic. I’d hug her, but I’m pretty sure she’d stab me for implying she needs it.
Bennis manages to show the horrors of war and how such circumstances bring out the best and worst of humanity in eighteen short chapters. Nobody seems to be sure what they’re fighting for (Bernat), and those who do know understand it’s a pretty dumb reason, but they’ll do it anyway because it’s what their country demands of them (Josette). It’s a very skeptical view of war, but done in a way that doesn’t bash soldiers who are honestly just protecting their home. It’s a rare tightrope ability.
The best thing about this book for me is probably the chemistry between Bernat and Josette. It’s not romantic. There is zero romance or sexual tension between these two. It’s established from the start that Bernat prefers women at least a decade older than him, and Josette never mentions any past lovers or desires. It’s purely a platonic relationship. By the end of the book, they’re more like brother and sister. Words cannot express how grateful I was to find a story that centered on two characters of the opposite sex who did not pursue a romantic relationship between them. I was ecstatic.
Hands down, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, and I’m rarely so invested in the characters. The front cover says it’s the first of a series, and I sincerely hope we see many more airship adventures to come.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!