This was more or less on the same quality of fun and entertainment of Retribution Falls; except that it was imbued with great characterizations right from the start.
The Black Lung Captain is the second book in the Tales of the Ketty Jay quartet by Chris Wooding. A year since the events of the last book has passed and the plot began with Frey being offered a mission that will make him extremely wealthy and as usual, the mission immediately went completely wrong. Sounds familiar? Yup, I practically copy pasted my plot description of the first book. In terms of storytelling structure, there was close to zero differences with the first book. This doesn’t mean that the book wasn’t entertaining or fun to read, because they were. However, if you’re binge reading the series as I did, you’ll notice even more just how similar the structure of the story was and at times it can felt a bit draggy. The plot and actions were still engaging overall but moving forward, I really hope Wooding offers something new to the series rather than just similar storytelling structure rehashed with different names and places.
My minor issue with the repetitive nature of the storytelling style aside, I must say that once again I’m deeply impressed by Wooding’s characterizations and how well-fleshed out the crews of Ketty Jay were. With the exception of one crewmate, the crew of Ketty Jay received well-thorough character development and growth. The superb characters’ growth and improvement were even more evident in Frey, Crake, and Jez. In the first book, it was all about trying to first realize that they’re a team; the sequel shows how difficult it can be to maintain the relationship and teamwork in their ragtag group.
“Not for the first time, he wished he commanded a highly trained bunch of soldiers instead of a ragtag mob of rejects in varying stages of alcoholism.”
Frey and the crew of Ketty Jay learned and fought through a lot of emotional hurdles in order to work better as a crew and I found their journey to be heartwarming and satisfying to read. Wooding really dived deep into the characters’ personalities, flaws, and thoughts; if you’re not a fan of heavily character-driven books, I can imagine how this series would be boring to read. Sure there were plenty of actions, engaging plot, and good pacing to go with but beneath it all, the characterizations easily took the spotlight of the book.
“Individually they were hopeless. But somehow, when they were all together, they became something greater than the sum of their parts.”
The world-building improved as Wooding gave more explanation on the history of the Manes and daemon. Admittedly, I want to address I truly believe that Wooding was inspired by Full Metal Alchemist in the creation of this series. Without spoiling anything from the series so far, there were two characters in the series that seriously have the same subplot as the one told in Full Metal Alchemist. There’s nothing wrong with it, authors are always free to be inspired by other peoples’ work and put it into their creation. However, I had a hard time not thinking something along the line of “oh my god, this is completely just like Full Metal Alchemist” repeatedly during these two character storyline; it was too similar and frankly, quite distracting to my immersion.
This review has been relatively shorter than my usual review. Despite how much I enjoyed the book, I simply don’t have anything prominent left to say because there were too many similarities between this and the first book that if I exclude the improvement in character development and world-building, it really felt like the same plot rehashed with different antagonist and locales. Overall though, my rating speaks for itself; The Black Lung Captain was fun and entertaining. I won’t say that it was amazing or mind-blowing but I laughed, saddened, smiled, and certainly had a fun time with it. Wooding continues to impress and immerse me with his talent in characterizations and once again, I can’t wait to read what kind of ordeal the crew of Ketty Jay will face next.
You can order the book HERE!