Why You Should Read the Donovan Series

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to another episode of The Raccoon Awards. My name is Lizy and I like to sail ghost ships into the void, throwing the perfect books at unsuspecting victims.

It’s been a little bit since I made a post. I’m fine, I just haven’t been reading much, and when I have, it’s been guilty pleasure reads. Specifically, I just finished ABANDONED, book 2 in the Donovan series (OUTPOST is book one and I read it earlier in the year). This series doesn’t seem to get much press but I really, really love it, so I thought that instead of doing a regular review, I would just scream about the series.

Donovan is one of the most fascinating science fiction set-ups I’ve seen so far. It takes place on a remote and deadly alien world cut off from the corporation that founded it. As Donovanians struggle to survive, though, they’ve ditched their corporate mores and are in the process of experimenting with a fully libertarian society, for better or for worse.

This series has so much going on that I couldn’t help but keep turning pages. In OUTPOST (book 1), the first corporate ship in almost a decade has made it to the base. So has a ghost ship full of almost 200 year old corpses that should have arrived at Donovan six months prior. Add to this the politics between fiercely independent Donovanians and the stubborn corporates, the slimy fraudster Dan Wirth who exploits and blackmails every loophole he can get, and also that a main character is dealing with a sort of dead alien’s psyche living inside her? OUTPOST is one hell of a book.

Then, in ABANDONED (book two), tensions are continuing to rise between Corporate, Port Authority (aka the Donovanians), and Dan Wirth’s power plays. Donovan itself is still as deadly as ever, and no one has any guarantee that Corporate will ever send another ship. In the midst of this, a marine deserts corporate and stumbles on a hidden base in the wild where researchers have been hiding out and creating a new Eden. They’ve managed to befriend local wildlife, beat back the forest, and develop all sorts of medicines, but their infrastructure is steadily falling into disrepair and they need new supplies. Getting trade running between the base and Port Authority when so many egos are running critically high, however, is going to be a trick. ABANDONED knocks it out of the park on so many levels.

I love this series for so many reasons, I hardly know where to begin. The world-building is unreal. W Michael Gear is a lifelong archeologist by day, and he’s infused so much pre-human world building into the world of Donovan that it’s incredibly immersive. I actually have a generally unfounded theory that Donovan is actually prehistoric Earth, but I haven’t had that confirmed so far.

I also really love the fierce independence of the characters. It’s like reading about the pioneers who headed west in America because they wanted to be left the hell alone and would figure out everything themselves. These prickly characters are a refreshing change from the typical books I read. Oh, and Gear writes amazing villains! Straight up, there was one character I hated so much I was begging to have them gruesomely disemboweled by the end of Abandoned.

Another draw to me, surprisingly, is the way the Donovan series handles politics. Like I said above, this is predominantly a series about whether a fully libertarian society could be functional. It’s very clearly written by a libertarian who happily pokes and jabs every hole to see if it punches through the experiment. Full disclosure: I bleed blue, and I typically trend to reading SFFH that also bleeds blue. However, this is the only series I can think of that’s focused on actual political ideologies versus political intrigue, socioeconomic issues, or things that are definitely more a social issue than a political one but have been made political in our current climate, like race and class etc. Because politics have become such a clusterfuck recently – and because social issues being named political ones is something I read about all the time – Donovan is incredibly refreshing in how far removed it is from those norms. It’s wonderful escapism for me, and it reminds me of the political debates we used to have, say, 10 years ago, with actual logic and reasoning? It’s not even my politics, I don’t necessarily agree with it, I definitely think some of the characters have flawed motivations/perspectives, but I love every page anyway.

Even more than how much I adore the true political nature of the Donovan series, my very favorite thing is how much there is to pick apart. It’s such a unique world with so many different dynamics, perspectives, and power shifts that it feels like being handed a Rubik’s cube for the first time. I have so many questions, so many things I lay awake at night thinking about, so many things I want to see explored.

This is a fantastic series that deserves more readership. The first three books are out in paperback, and the fourth is out in hardcover. Book five is slated to release next June, and I’m pretty excited about it. If you’re interested in picking up any of these books for yourself, click here! Honestly, I can’t wait to dive back in.

Thanks for reading, y’all, and hey: I’ll see you in the new year!

3 thoughts on “Why You Should Read the Donovan Series

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