Title: A Loser Like Me
Author: Nathan Burton
Genre: Science Fiction
This novel covers Beth Clarke’s journey to execute the greatest bank robbery the galaxy has ever known. The tale starts with her first “robbery,” where she deceives a rich woman from Earth into buying medicines for her family, and continues until it chronicles her finding the team members she needs to pull off the bank robbery itself.
The narration is casual and relaxed as Beth tells her story, which fits her character, though there are portions of her story which are only hinted at, such as the specific nature of her relationship with Rohxann, her alien best friend, though the implications seem romantic. Overall, the focus of Beth’s destiny as a bank robber drives the story, which naturally puts other elements off to one side.
The focus of the story also leads it to be lighter on narrative details than many science fiction stories. The settings are provided in a general way, giving enough details to help readers have a sense of the scenes and planets without distracting from the focus of what Beth thinks and feels. Similarly, the gadgets Beth uses to execute the robbery seem realistic or straightforward rather than sophisticated, but this further fits the needs of the story, which is focused on Beth and how she navigates a lawless goal while still being a good person.
Her dream and the obstacles that lie in her way, how she responds to setbacks or temptations provide the backbone of this coming-of-age plot. Though Beth is older than most young adult characters, her struggles to navigate her world will likely resonate with young adult readers, as the story is largely about Beth becoming the person she wants to be.
The cast of robbers is colorful and varied, from the emotionally-vibrant and open Rohxann to the enigmatic Interloper or the science-fiction version of Bonnie and Clyde. Alien and humans are interspersed fairly equally, and Rohxann and Beth’s implied bisexuality adds to this, though most of the male characters seem fairly typical, though of varied ages and temperaments.
The plot itself can feel a bit convenient, but since it openly attributes fate to Beth’s being able to attempt the heist, it doesn’t come across as contrived. There is a nice level of mystery to her actions at times, leaving readers guessing as to how her plans will work or whether she’ll even manage to be successful, but the dialogue and interactions between the characters could use some more polish, as there are places where it doesn’t quite feel natural.
This thoughtful adventure story provides an encouraging message about fulfilling your dreams while delivering an imaginative tale of adventure and cunning. Beth’s dedication and determination, coupled with the delight of seeing if she can pull off her dream heist, make for a compelling story. Not simply about a bank robbery, though, this book explores when lawlessness is excusable and how a person can stay good while following a questionable goal, giving readers plenty to think about as they enjoy the shenanigans of Beth and her friends.
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