Oh man. I really wanted to like this book. Not least, I must admit, because I actually own SEVEN other books by the author which are in my TBR backlog (hey, they looked fun!).
This one went to the top of the list because I got it from NetGalley. (Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the copy.)
Near-future Australian Park Ranger Virgin (yes, that's her name) finds a dead body at the end of her shift. Together with a Native American U.S. Marshal, her endlessly-resourceful best friend Caro, and the support of her hunky stripper friend-with-benefits Heart, she has to stay alive, stay out of jail, and solve the crime.
The story felt very much like a pilot episode of a low-budget action-oriented TV show aimed at teens. It introduces the characters, walks them through a basic plot, and leaves room for plenty more to come.
The writing is the weakest part - it's barely more than a screenplay. Actually, screenplays are usually carefully and precisely crafted. This reads almost as if, after outlining the story, the author orally narrated it into a tape recorder and then said, "It's done" - awkward grammar, not-quite-right words, over-colloquial phrasing, plot inconsistencies, and all.
I have to admit, I may be feeling more-than-usually critical of the language because I read this concurrently with a book by a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author who inarguably has a greater-than-average facility with words, and whose use of language displays a true grace. This author does not aim for that. The words are there to tell you what each character said and did next - that's all.
One extra star because I liked the sci-fi Australian setting, and the characters and concepts, although cartoonish, were pretty fun. If this were actually a tv show, I'd probably even watch it.