Chasing Nonconformity by Michelle Proulx

Chasing Nonconformity by Michelle ProulxBalancing an eye for the absurd with actual danger, Proulx creates a science-fiction tale that is light and fast without being shallow or cloying.

This novel is the second in the Imminent Danger series. Thus, ‘spoilers, darling’.

Still annoyed after the revelation that Varrin’s thoughtful gift was actually a marriage contract, Eris Miller wants a vacation more than ever. However, Varrin’s ship, the Nonconformity, is in the clutches of the annoyingly benevolent galactic government, and Varrin seems even more determined than his usual arrogant, entitled self to get it back. Meanwhile, on Rakor, Varrin’s father – the Emperor – dispatches two lethal killers and a bad poet to bring his son home, whether he wants to return or not.

This volume continues in the same vein as the first one: real peril mixed with farcical situations. Punk tribble-analogues face genetically superior warriors. Alien music turns out to be a taste that’s easy to acquire. And Eris gets kidnapped yet again.

However, Proulx does not merely reprise the arc of previous book. While the relationship between Eris and Varrin is still a fusion of annoyance and attraction, this is a post-singledom dance; rather than discovering their feelings for each other, they are discovering what they are prepared to compromise because they have feelings for each other.

In parallel with the intertwining of heist and romance as Eris and Varrin try to recover the Nonconformity, Proulx provides the reader a new perspective on her universe: the mission by the Emperor’s second son, an artist in a society of warriors, to find Varrin and force him to return home. Contrasting the harshness of his bodyguards’ opinions and actions with the obsessive emotion of a poet, this second plot-line both contrasts and echoes that of Eris and Varrin.

As with the previous volume, both plot and characterisation speak to the optimism of youth. However – as before – this does not mean the book is without depth and complexity.

Eris and Varrin have both changed and remained the same, giving their scenes a sense of two people altered by their relationship and experiences yet too new to it that the changes have bedded in.

Proulx’s new characters are similarly plausible (for an absurd universe) and nuanced, making them an interesting addition to the world. Indeed they are sympathetic enough that readers might find themselves half-hoping the quest to drag Varrin home succeeds.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers seeking fast-paced comic science-fiction that isn’t too absurd.

I received a free copy from the author with no obligation to review.

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