The Backworlds (Book 1) - M. Pax

I just finished The Backworlds by M Pax. Since I read books mainly to escape from my boring reality, I love books that provide such an escape. This one does. I also love characters that are likeable and - you guessed it - these are.

The setting is far into the future when many planets have been colonized - some are less hospitable than others (the 'backworlds') as opposed to the supposedly more habitable Foreworlds. You find out that there's been a war between the foreworlders and the backworlders, but that's pretty much all you learn about the Foreworlders.

The main character is what seems to be a teenage boy/young man, who has been working for several years in his father's bar. He belongs to an interesting bioengineered species that isn't completely human, with 'living hair' and some sort of short fur that is pleasant to the touch.

Since life is harsh in the 'backworlds', Craze's father, ungratefully, decides to make his son leave, after taking the younger man's girlfriend from him.  To make sure Craze really leaves, he sets the leaders of their small community on him, with something like cattle prods. Craze is forced to board a ship heading for a space junction, where he will be able to choose his own destination.

Fortunately, Craze meets some very nice avian guys with a ship of their own, who decide to hire him as part of their crew.

People (I use the term loosely) in this 'universe' seem to be a bit dishonest but not ruthless enough to kill others, at least not most of them. To me that's very important. I can't stress enough how tired I am of ruthless, cruel, cold characters. To me it's necessary to be able to sympathize with the characters to be able to finish the book (and look forward to reading another by the same author).

I give this book four out of five stars (it's a relatively short, simple plot), for the fascinating setting, the fascinating characters and excellent writing.