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Black Hole Sun [Hardcover]

David M Gill
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 16 2010

Durango is playing the cards he was dealt. And it’s not a good hand.

He’s lost his family.

He’s lost his crew.

And he’s got the scars to prove it.

You don’t want to mess with Durango.


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Review

School Library Journal Best Book“Rockets readers to new frontiers . . . action-packed.” (Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games)

“Great story, great characters, and nonstop action. David Gill takes you to a rugged, fast, tough world.” (Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes)

“Black Hole Sun grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until the last page. In the best tradition of Heinlein and Firefly, Black Hole Sun is for readers who like their books fast-paced, intense, and relentless. Buy it, read it, pass it on!” (Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Wintergirls and Speak)

“Readers will have a hard time turning the pages fast enough as the body count rises to the climactic, satisfying ending, which will leave new fans hopeful for more adventures.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Action, adventure, sci-fi, and horror buffs will all find this an almost perfect mix of all of the genres, and the addition of a soupçon of romance and hints of painful family drama results in a book that’s got appeal to just about any potential speculative-fiction fan.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

“Science-fiction fans will cheer Durango on in his exploits and enjoy the twists in the novel’s satisfying conclusion. ” (School Library Journal (starred review))

“Fast-paced, compulsively readable, and outright funny.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

About the Author

David Macinnis Gill lives with his family in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is the author of Black Hole Sun, Invisible Sun, and Shadow on the Sun, as well as Soul Enchilada.


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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My Son Loves It Aug. 7 2012
Format:Paperback
Based on favourable online reviews, I bought this for my early-teen son. He's a tough audience, but this book thoroughly engaged him. He found the story line compelling and involving. I haven't read it, but he's been recommending it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Sept. 13 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Book was good and thanks to all .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sci-fi Aug. 28 2010
By J.Prather - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Black Hole Sun is classic shoot em up sci fi at it's best! You get an evil queen, cannibalistic bad guys, oppressed masses, corrupt politicians, and a crew of misfits and left behinds to ride in and save the day. Plunk all that down on the planet Mars, mix it up with some very interesting science and you have a great story that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. It took me about the first 100 pages or so to get comfortable with the setting, the characters and the back-story. That might seem like a long time, but the author does an expert job of presenting all the information in a way that keeps the reader engaged. The dialogue is excellent, the pacing is perfect and the ending is non-stop action.

The characters here are well developed and engaging. Durango is quite the hero. He struggles with moral dilemmas, knows his own fallibility and still manages to be one tough dude. Vienne is excellent as his second, and the supporting characters of miners and bad guys are all memorable. I truly hope this becomes a series. Durango and Vienne make quite a duo and I am eager to learn what kind of trouble they get into next and also where their relationship might be headed. This is a solid recommend for teens grade 8 and up. There's quite a bit of violence and death. Fans of the Hunger Games will find much to like here, although this one is a bit more hard core sci-fi. Very well written.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop me if you think you've seen this one before May 24 2012
By C. Aleo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for David Macinnis Gill's Black Hole Sun. It was a combination dystopian/sci-fi; it was young-adult; and it came highly recommended with a five-star rating by a friend whose opinion I trust. Unfortunately, it fell far short of the mark.

The premise of the book starts off fairly well: mercenary Durango and his team of rag-tag misfits accept a mission for far below their usual pay to defend a mining outpost on Mars from a band of cannibals who demand children of the miners. Of course, it takes several chapters to get to this point, because we have to meet Durango during his previous mission, where he rescues a moneyed girl and her brother in a convoluted side plot (view spoiler).

Another reviewer on Goodreads suggested that the plot (and the main character, and the Chinese and Japanese epithets) were borrowed heavily from Joss Whedon's Firefly series, and I'd agree. With another helping of child soldiers trained in battle academy from Ender's Game, an artificial intelligence aiding and abetting the main character from William Gibson's Count Zero, and the oddly-painted artistocracy a cross between Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Capitol and Gibson's Idoru. I'm willing to bet there are others I've missed.

In other words, you'll feel a lot like you've read this one before.

While there are moments when the story shines, so much of it feels derivative of other, better-known sci-fi novels, and the teens in the book feel so much older than their alleged 17 years, that it ultimately fails as both a young adult novel as well as a sci-fi novel. Most sci-fi fans will have read the books (and seen the series), and I'm not sure younger readers will connect with these preternaturally aged characters. Even Ender was, at heart, at child. Durango is a middle-aged man before his time.

This review appeared previously on Goodreads.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heewack, Cowboy! Nov. 9 2010
By S.E. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was a terrific novel filled with wit, sharp dialogue, and an imaginative premise. Durango, Mimi, and the rest of the davos are characters, not unlike the Firefly crew, I would very much like to meet again. The queen, in particular, was delightfully, maniacally, homicidally psychotic. I enjoyed her more than any other villain I've read in quite some time.

Gill's Mars was intriguing, a unique culture that I can easily see as an extension and believable amalgamation of our own. The exploration of individual values versus established Tenets, between what's acceptable, accepted, and exceptional principles, provided a tense setup internally as Durango searched for balance in what it means to be a leader.

I appreciated the first half of the book for its crisply written, fairly straightforward, uncomplicated plot which was enhanced by a manageable and memorable cast. The second half though... suddenly exploded with subplots and flashbacks and extraneous plot devices that left me scratching my head on more than one occasion. I wondered if I had missed not only a couple of chapters but an entire prequel. Some incidents were random, like the little girl who magically appeared in the middle of a battle scene wanting to play with Jenkins. The rugrat was charming, yes, but heretofore un-introduced and never seen again thereafter. The beginning of several plot lines seemed to have been left on the cutting room floor.

The author seemed to take a bit of a scattershot perspective as he attempted the unenviable task of worldbuilding on an alien planet and establishing the foundation for sequels while sacrificing some of the momentum and background necessary for this book. Understand too that if I had to choose between an author who erred by excessively telling versus excessively showing I'd immediately pick up the former, as happened here. Without question, Gill is speaking to his audience's intelligence and not the lowest common denominator.

All told, I'd roundly recommend "Black Hole Sun" to anyone for it's explosive action and deft characterization. I enjoyed the ride so much that I'll easily forgive its flaws and eagerly anticipate the sequel.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Are you accusing me of passing gas?" May 23 2011
By WEN OU - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
said Durango, the protagonist, on page 5 of David Macinnis Gill's action-packed novel, Black Hole Sun. And whew, when I say action-packed, I mean literally action-packed. The whole reason I chose to read this novel was because when I opened the first page some Draeu killed 2 girls with head-shots from their sniper rifles. Throughout the book, you encounter humor and action so many times that you're out of breath by the time you reach the end of the novel. For example, at one part, Durango says "I'm ready for drop. On my mark, in thr-" to which Mimi, basically a computerized voice inside Durango, replies "Your mark calculations are incorrect," (Gill 8). She then makes Durango press the lock to open the hatch and make Durango experience a thrilling dive of 961 kilometers per hour. Right there, it's basically humor followed by action. Even after the fall there's a joke.

Other than the action and the humor, though, the rest of the book is fairly lackluster. There's not too much characterization. All of the characters don't exactly have a past. Only Durango has a decent history, but even then, it's lacking. If the author explained Durango's dad (and mom, she's never mentioned) and Mimi a lot more, it would add so much more to the book. Mimi, while I love her sarcasm and humor, has a past that just seems randomly thrown into the book just to make her have a past. Also, the plot twists are really...lame. All I can say were that the plot twists were done "last-minute." I believe that the plot twist wasn't planned in advance by the author. I'm pretty sure that when the author reached that part of the book, he was like "Hey, it'll be a great idea if I do this!" There were two plot twists, and both times they seemed hastily done. The plot and characterization could have been much better.

All in all, the book was pretty well done. I expected a lot of action from the beginning, and I got a lot of action. The humor was an added surprise. Again, though, I was extremely disappointed in the plot and characterization. The ending was pleasing. It brought a sense of closure, but it left room open for a sequel (which this book desperately needs to have more characterization). This book has enough action to become a movie, but I'm not sure the plot is good enough. It definitely isn't a classic, though. All in all, while this isn't exactly my most favorite book of all time, I did not regret reading it.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Space Western Fairy Tale--Fun, but a bit problematic Aug. 24 2010
By Erika (Jawas Read, Too) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am reviewing an advance copy provided by the publisher.

Black Hole Sun is a Science Fiction fairy tale for young adults. With a sense of humor. And a touch of Space Western thrown in. There are helpless villagers tormented by adversaries: the Draeu are monstrous and savage snout-nosed creatures who unapologetically eat humans for breakfast (and lunch, dinner, snacks, second breakfast, etc...). They demand child sacrifices to sate their appetite and postpone another round of pillaging and scare-mongering. These people aren't trained to fight. They have the equivalent of kitchen knives and pitchforks, but anger and determination don't make warriors out of people used to living underground. What they need is a hero.

Durango is a Regulator, a term which is implicitly described as a protector or military type who used to have clout, but is now looked at as a shameful joke. His past is mysterious and he pretends he's a reluctant hero, but really he's not. Durango just has a sympathetic heart and a deep loyalty to the institution he used to uphold. He can also curse like a sailor in several different languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Latin, German, Finnish, Japanese, and Greek.

David Macinnis Gill is nothing if not opportunistic with his inclusion of multiple cultures and languages in a narrative that takes them all in together, mixes them up, and parses them out at odd times that sometimes create a confusing mess rather than the melting pot I'm sure was the original intention. Where Gill's experimentation felt the weakest is in his mixing of religious tenets and practices--interchanging terms liberally like Valhalla and Nirvana--and in the type of leadership Mars used to have. Early on in the book it's described as a sovereignty, later as a business. I'm still not sure if Durango was heir to a vast corporate empire or if he's the next Lord of Mars. Perhaps in this new nation the two are the same. On Mars it might not matter which is which if society is still trying to figure things out for itself, trying new hats on for size to see which fits best.

I found the setting incredibly contagious and downright fun. Gill even detailed the world down to measuring time in Mars years, rather than using Earth as the standard like most SF tends to do. At 8.5, Durango is roughly seventeen years of age to us; according to NASA, Mars has a solar cycle of about 320 days longer than ours. I felt nerdy for having to look up this information (in a proud way), but was glad I picked up on the fact that I should look it up, rather than go on thinking eight- and six-year olds were running around with heavy weaponry.

Mars is a pugnacious frontier with rough characters and unforgiving terrain. What hasn't been covered in dust is covered in cynicism and the kind of attitude that could terraform the planet with a single sneer or spit of tobacco. Of course, not everyone's made of flint and hard-boiled skepticism. Jenkins and Fuse, for example, are the comedic relief of the story. The pair can come across as more slapstick than sarcastic, which makes them appear immature and their humor, forced more often than not, but they are a crazy addition to an already kooky cast of characters that includes, among others, an AI implanted into Durango's neural system and a second in command that could kick anyone's ass, her superior's included (I love Vienne).

Mimi is a snarky, quick-witted, and smart-mouthed AI who quotes poetry (favoring Robert Burns) and saves Durango's life with the kind of autopilot take over that I think we all wish we had access to. She's one of the best ingenuities of the book, but Gill has fun with his technology. I think his enthusiasm for tech forgives the disorganized collection of information on Regulators and the Tenets. Not to mention, some of his characters are a little uneven. I am thinking of Àine in particular, but Gill frequently introduces, uses briefly, and then seems to forget about a few characters. They remain afterthoughts (especially Àine, whose importance wanes considerably) in the background hum of activity surrounding Durango and his mission.

The archaic honor system the Regulators persist in deferring to creates rank-based tension that looked a bit ludicrous compared to the bigger picture, but helped flesh out the significance of the term Regulator: it evokes a tradition from the past that doesn't necessarily work in the present. I would have liked to have seen a little more, but for the most part, Gill doesn't give large expository dumps of information that would overwhelm the reader and undermine his careful delivery.

Despite any problems I had with certain characters, the organization of information, or an unclear, never fully realized culture, Black Hole Sun was really a lot of fun. It was fast-paced, which suits the action, and many of Gill's punchlines perfectly. Durango himself evokes a young Mal from "Firefly" or even, on a certain level, Cole from The Sheriff of Yrnameer. There's even a little bit of romance thrown in at just the right moments to make it both awkwardly amusing and heartwarming. I'm still not sure why females were designated "suzies" and males weren't called by anything other than a name or title, but for now the change of pace and setting was welcome. It isn't often I see YA SF titles; this one entertained me enough that I hope to see more from Gill in the future!
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