CLUTCHI Am Just Junco #1
by J.A. Huss
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Science Future Press
Source: eARC for Blog Tour
In 2152 the avian race is on Earth looking for something stolen from them decades ago – their genetics. At the center of the search lies the Rural Republic; a small backwards farming country with high hopes of military domination and a penchant for illegal bioengineering. 19 year old Junco Coot is the daughter of the Rural Republic’s ranking commander. She’s the most foul-mouthed, wildly unpredictable and ruthless sniper the Rural Republic has ever trained. But when her father’s death sparks a trip into forbidden places, she triggers events that will change everything she knows to be true. As an elite avian military officer, Tier’s mission is to destroy the bioengineering projects, kill Commander Coot’s daughter, and return home immediately. There’s just one problem. Junco isn’t who she claims to be. With no one to trust, not even herself, Junco must confront the secrets of her past and accept her place in the future, or risk losing herself completely.
Clutch is a high-action science fiction novel that will really get your heart racing! J.A. Huss brings on the mystery, action, and romance. Junco's story is epic, fast paced and ready to be devoured by readers with an appetite for a hardcore heroine.
Junco is a different kind of heroine, though. She's a ball of uncontrolled emotions and unsure about what's happening in her life as it spirals downhill. When Junco is decisive about her next move, trust me, you wouldn't want to stand in her path. That's one of the reasons Junco stands out to me. She's vulnerable and lost at one moment, then charged up with rage and determination at another. The avian creature, Tier, gets under Junco's skin and breaks through some of those layers that readers will see throughout the novel. Junco and Tier made for an unlikely duo, but I loved their bickering, making up, and protective instincts flowing through the both of them. There are many directions their relationship can go, but at the moment it's tenuous and on the verge of something delightful.
Junco's world is very complex and it took me a few chapters to get a true feeling for its setup. It's great that the story jumps right in, but the familiarity of Junco's thoughts with her world didn't help me quickly get a grip on what was actually going on. The world is divided and dominated by aggressive military factions. The technology is beyond simple and very intricately placed in the story's plot. The tension between humans and the avian race adds another layer and I'm anxious to see how it plays out in the rest of the series. Clutch, and most likely the following novels of the I Am Just Junco Series, is definitely geared toward an older audience. Between the language and violence, I recommend this story for readers eighteen and up.*ebook provided in exchange for an honest review and blog tour purposes*
*Read my reviews of Fledge, Flight, Range, and The Magpie Bridge*
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Junco's Favorite Hobby
You’d think a teenage hit-girl would be too busy for hobbies, but you’d be wrong. While Junco is an accomplished pianist (more on that in the third book in the series, Flight), collects books, and considers using weapons of all kinds to be an extra-curricular activity, the hobby that excites and gives her the most pleasure is mounted aerial acrobatics.
Imagine horse vaulting taken to the extreme – with riders performing complex gymnastics and martial arts moves on the back of a galloping equine! This is mounted aerial acrobatics in the year 2152 and Junco just happens to be the reigning World Grand Champion when her life begins to unravel from the inside out.
But as with everything else in Junco’s life, there is an ulterior motive for her daring riding skills. I can’t say too much, but this sport allows a sheltered kid from a country that closely guards both its secrets and its citizens, to travel the world and meet many important people. Important people who sometimes end up dead…
Readers will find the first example of Junco’s mad flipping skills early on in Clutch, but this only gives a teeny tiny hint of what’s to come. These skills carry her through a plethora of stressful situations and allow her to gain an advantage in many combat scenarios. They also come in handy when she’s flying on the back of an avian warrior at break-neck speeds.
Late in Clutch, Tier and Junco have a conversation out in her barn. She’s trying to relax after a very stressful string of events, and Tier is just not sure doing flips on a galloping horse is quite the way he’d unwind after a hard day.
I flip the light off and head back out to the arena. Darby is still walking but when I click my tongue, she begins to trot. I slide under the pipe gate and walk onto the thick loamy dirt and position myself in the center of the arena before clicking for her to tighten up into a regulation circle. Tier takes a seat on the small wooden bleachers on the long side of the arena and I run alongside Darby, grab her mane, and swing up onto her back with little effort.
"You gonna be a spectator tonight, Tier? Or you gonna talk?"
"It can wait," he calls.
I tap at her girth with my toe and she eases into a controlled lope. She’s so easy to ride, so smooth and natural that I automatically relax with her and the rhythm fills my core and drops to my seat as I sink into it. I let the tension drain away and then pop up to a stand and watch as Tier does the same. "You’ve never spied on me in here, or what?"
My back is to him, but when I come around the perimeter, he’s in the arena with me, standing in the center pivoting as I circle.
"It makes me very nervous to watch."
I smile and flip backwards in the air, landing onto the sweet spot in the bow of Darby’s back. Tier’s face is contorted into a look of shock and I laugh and do it again.
"I always thought they made ya do this. I never knew you actually liked it."
I click and bend my knees so I can absorb the increased pace as Darby extends her canter to a gallop, then do a double, this time landing on one foot. "This is heaven." I drop back down onto her back and touch her with my toe twice and she collects. We make several revolutions and I feel my shoulders and neck loosen up. "Have you ever ridden a horse, Tier?" My breath is heavy now and the wind we make hisses loudly in my ears so I don’t hear his answer. I tap and Darby changes gears like the professional she is, slows, slows, slows. And we are walking again. I make subtle squeezes with my lower leg and take her over to Tier, breathing hard. "Get on."
Tier does get on and what ensues is not a scene you’ll want to miss!