Review: Starfall by Jessie KwakStarfall: A Durga System Novella by Jessie Kwak
Series: Durga System #1
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Noir
Release: 2016
Type: Novella

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Jessie Kwak described her new Durga System series as “gangsters in space.” I was intrigued.

The story opens with two protagonists, a 15-year-old deaf girl being held prisoner as an enemy combatant and a middle-aged crime boss choosing between vengeance and duty.

The book has all of the elements of an epic space opera, with factions like criminal organizations, political bosses, rebels, and an interstellar empire. The characters are also intriguing, from the irrepressible Starla–who is down, but far from out–to her godfather, an actual mobster.

Many of the names have a South-Asian flavor, with the Indiran Alliance, the planet of New Sarjun, and Silk Station. You get the feeling of colonial era Malaysia or Indonesia, where many different traders and pirates go through, and politicians and gangsters are competing to fleece the unwary.

What Makes it Epic Grit:

  • Adventure and Wonder: Gangsters in space–Need I say more?
  • Believable Characters: Yup. There’s strength, vulnerability, brokenness, and affection.
  • Real Consequences: Severe consequences play a crucial role in the story.
  • Epic in Scope: There’s an interstellar empire and criminal empires.
  • Subverts “Good versus Evil” Tropes: Anti-heroes vs. Corrupt Authority.
  • Different Perspectives: The protagonists are a 15-year-old deaf girl and a middle-aged crime boss.


I was immediately sucked in to this world, and left wanting more at the end of this novella-sized introduction to the Durga System. If you sign up for Jessie Kwak’s email list, you can get a free ebook of Starfall and be notified when the next installment, Negative Return, is released.