Becca, Reporting for Duty by Mima (2011)

Becca Reporting For Duty by MimaSmashwords / Amazon / Author’s Site

4/5 stars

Description:
Becca is so done with her older brother’s naval heroism constantly landing in the headlines. She’s ready to hit a starcourse herself as an engineering intern and she’s going to keep her family pedigree a secret. But her pursuit of travel and success holds quite a more tangled path than she planned.

Upon arrival at her first space trader, the Captain meets her with a curious offer of responsibility. Soon she faces aliens, smuggling intrigue, a mysterious cryo prisoner, and plenty of sexual options. A moment’s decision can change the course of a person’s future. Take control, play below decks, and watch out for heat pistols.

Review:
When was the last time you saw a choose your own adventure space opera book with plenty of sex scenes? You’ve never seen one before? I thought so. That’s why I decided to read this book, and I enjoyed it more than I expected.

A choose your own adventure (CYOA) or a gamebook, is like a normal book, only that once in a while you make decisions for the protagonist. In one of the scenarios, Becca finds a mysterious cryogenically preserved prisoner in the cargo hold. Should she investigate the cryo prisoner herself, or should she alert the Captain? There are hyperlinks provided for the two options, and clicking on one of them will take you to a different page and change the course of the story. There are sixteen different endings in total that lead to glory, love, or failure.

Thankfully, unlike the CYOAs I’ve read in the past, this book is in third-person so it’s easy to get into it. It’s a fast-paced adventure and I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. Becca is a young engineer intern that’s in a rather dangerous space trader, and the choices she makes has important consequences for her safety and the safety of others. The danger doesn’t come from outside the spaceship, but from the people that she works with. Some are involved with an interstellar mafia called the Brotherhood, some are sleazy and possibly abusive supervisors, and there are alien race relations to deal with on board too—all of which she could benefit from, or leave her dead.

I really liked Becca as a protagonist. She’s an ambitious, capable, and passionate woman, and I was invested in her by the time I was confronted with the first choice. All the available options are valid and there are no obvious answers. There are just risky choices and less risky choices, but some pay off while others kill off. Each choice changes Becca’s nature slightly, but everything is in character within the story thread.

My first read led to a demoralizing ending, but the book has a clickable table of contents, making it easy for readers to go back and explore each path in any order. Unlike some CYOAs where some storylines feel like a waste of time, every storyline is engaging and reveals a different side to the character. I also liked the ambiguity of some of the endings, and whether it’s good depends on the reader’s values. In one scenario, Becca loses everything but becomes a hardened survivor. I found that very inspiring and it’s one of my favourites.

I was curious to see if there were any storylines that didn’t lead to sex, but every thread involves some sexual intimacy, so make sure you’re ready for that. She becomes intimate with men, and some of them are humanoid aliens that are just a little bit different. The sex scenes are written in a candid, lusty, and delightfully audacious sort of way. It’s interesting that body parts and bodily functions are referred to by their actual names, but it’s logical coming from the POV of an engineering intern. It’s passionate and yet the complete opposite of purple prose. Some of the intimacy made me giggle because of the ridiculous sexiness, but I consider that as part of a fun erotica romp.

I don’t really have any criticisms, but I found one of the endings a bit cheesy because it was a fairytale happily ever after set in space. It fits the story and the genre, so there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just my comment as a reader that doesn’t read romance. Possible turn offs for other readers may be the exotic aliens (e.g. humanoids with tails or wings) and some of the misogynistic characters. For me, the aliens felt natural to the setting, and Becca doesn’t have to take crap from the misogynistic characters if she doesn’t want to.

Becca can get intimate with a lot of people, and while some it is dangerous, she’s always portrayed as a person with agency. She can choose to go with the heat of the moment or follow a more cautious route, then she lives with the consequences. The way she handles external pressure and conflict is written quite well so it doesn’t wander into unfortunate implications. If you read the sample, you’ll get a good sense of the space opera setting and the other characters, so you can decide if that’s up your alley.

Becca, Reporting for Duty is a surprisingly fun space opera adventure. It has danger, sex, and a strong female protagonist. If you’re looking for a tale that moves at a breakneck speed and filled with highs and lows, I recommend checking this out. Space opera, CYOA, and erotica aren’t the sort of stories I read often, but damn this was good. I want more of the first two, and I’m more open to the last one. The 16-different endings format doesn’t naturally lend itself to a sequel, but if there is more to Becca’s adventures, I’d love to read on.

You might like this if you like…
A CYOA filled with danger and sex; exotic aliens; a space opera adventure that moves at a breakneck speed

In addition to being purchased as a single book, Becca, Reporting for Duty can also be purchased as part of the Take Control Trilogy. They’re all gamebooks with romantic elements, and the other two that complete the set is a paranormal romance and a contemporary western. If those sound neat to you, snapping up all three for $6.99 could be worth your while instead of purchasing each title at $2.99.

You can also read more about Mima’s commentary on CYOAs on her blog. It’s interesting that a romance publisher rejected Becca because the happily ever after ending wasn’t guaranteed, but it’s an enthralling CYOA precisely because there’s real danger and seriously crap endings. As a speculative fiction reader that doesn’t read romance, I found the HEA ending boring and loved the other ones, but it’s great that such a diversity of endings exist. I’m glad that the author stuck to her guns and made Becca the exciting book that it currently is.

About Caroline Cryonic

Formerly known as Frida Fantastic. A speculative fiction book blogger from Vancouver, Canada currently living in Quezon City, Philippines.

Posted on August 7, 2011, in 4 stars, Becca Reporting for Duty, Ebook Reviews, Frida Reviewed, Mima, Science fiction, Space opera and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a fascinating idea for Space Opera! Sounds like it is definitely worth checking out.

  2. Yep, it’s one of the most original books I’ve read this year. It’s not normally the genre mix I go for (but not like I’ve seen anything like this before), but I really enjoyed it.

    If anyone’s been paying attention to my tvtropes-cross-referenced tags, this means I’ve tagged three ebooks with “estrogen brigade bait”. Ladies, if you want your SF/F with some interesting men, you know where to look :P

  3. Wow, what a awesome concept, and probably a very difficult thing to pull off. Great review Frida, based on that it seems the concept was executed very well.

    I love this line: “I was curious to see if there were any storylines that didn’t lead to sex, but every thread involves some sexual intimacy:” I guess that means Becca likes gettin’ it on. :)

    • Heck yes. She’s 22 and she leaves her hometown for her first spaceship. Of course she’s gonna get it on!

      I truly enjoyed this book, and I hope that more people will read it. While it is a science fiction book written by a romance author who likes to use SF/F settings… I wouldn’t call it a science fiction romance. There’s like, one brisk romance out of 16 different story lines. I’d personally give it the tagline “space opera adventure: comes with plenty of danger and sex!”

  1. Pingback: 3 Highly Recommended Science Fiction Reads « Frida Fantastic

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