Starfall is the sequel to Starflight and continues the adventures of the crew from that book, although this time the the focus is on Cassia and Kane, rather than Solara and Doran. We learned in the first book that Cassia was a fugitive from her planet, and a member of the royal family besides, while Kane is her best friend and love interest. This one picks up shortly after the first book, with the two of them running afoul of bounty hunters, and then getting pulled into the civil war happening on their home planet.
This one feels just like the first one, which I liked, it's a fast- moving space opera with a likable crew and a fun ship dynamic. I wasn't crazy about Cassia or especially Kane in the first one, so it was nice to get to know them here. They did grow on me, even if their relationship rankled at times. They're clearly in love but the civil war pulls them in different directions, and there's just too many misunderstandings and arguments for my liking. I have limited patience for situations that could be handled with communication. So that's my biggest problem.
I also thought this started a bit slow, even though the bounty hunters show up early- or maybe I just wasn't into it. I didn't think this was as strong as the first outing for about the first half, but around the halfway point my interest picked up as the story got more compelling. There are some twists and things that happen, including a mystery element about a possible traitor in the crew, that heightened my interest in the back half. It gets a little grittier too. The second half was a better book, I thought.
The other thing that struck me is, again, the realism factor. Just like in the first book some things just happen so fast. There's a situation with Cassia in the beginning that is introduced and resolved within three chapters, and that seems way too fast. I also never really felt like anyone was in danger- not really. That was lessened by the grittiness towards the end, but by and large I didn't fear for their lives much. I think if the stakes were higher it would pack more of a punch.
Having said all that, this is not a bad book. It's a perfectly good YA SF with fun characters and exotic planets, and if you like space opera and/ or liked Starflight you'll probably like this too. It's a breezy read, nothing too serious, and even though it does touch on themes of monarchy vs democracy and even drug addiction, the main theme here is fun.