Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m a huge Browncoat and I looked forward to this book with great joy. I also kept my expectations low because it was a new direction for media based on the show which has been limited to live-action and comics and both are quite different from prose.
Happily, the writers (yup ,it says Nancy Holder on the front, but there’s a collab here somehow with James Lovegrove) manage to capture the characters very well – a linch-pin of the shows success and fandom. They all FELT like the characters I had come to know and love, the voices, the humour, the emotions, the relationships, it all felt right. It felt like it should, in my mind.
The reason for my slightly weaker review is that frankly the story was… not that great. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing “Bad” about it, it just had flaws that I couldn’t quite shake.
There are two stories in this book, branching out from the start: The first follows the main here-and-now adventure as Mal goes to meet a potential client and gets himself kidnapped and the crew race to find him and the second storyline which flashes back to a young Mal on his homeworld of Shadow as we learn more about his youth.
The primary story is actually pretty good all in all and the way they tie it back in relevance to the flashbacks is actually pretty good and this main story was what kept me going through the book. The flashback stories however were not bad but somehow felt very boring and just a tad cliched to me for some reason, even a little boring at times but thankfully not a drag. The whole thing sort of evens out as you go along but the reading experience as a whole has some uneven moments – compounded (for me at least) by an over-use in the earliest chapters of a one too many very obvious references to the source material and not in an organic way, almost like going “eh! eh! Remember that!?!”
Which is a tad annoying to me but I suppose may not be a problem for everyone.
In the end it was good enough that I wish I could rate it a little higher and am very much looking forward to the next novel in the line. It had the great feel of being basically a prose version of a new episode for the show and had all the right feels as far as characters, tones and beats went so overall I’m a happy reader in the end. I do recommend the read for fans and even for general sci-fi readers it is a pretty easy jumping on point because it does a good job introducing practically everything (and might in fact be better for newer entrants to the ‘Verse) and provides a lot of info along the way, almost like an introduction to this world.
In the end I think all the positives definitely outweigh all my nit-picky negatives and the bits of uneven-ness do not take away from the book as a whole which does an admirable enough job of wearing multiple hats.