Sometimes all that matters is making a choice and standing your ground. Sometimes all that matters is opening your eyes and being brave enough to accept that reality is different from what you’d been taught to believe.
So, this book is what happens if you took Firefly and The Expanse, with a soupçon of Battlestar Galactica, and smushed them all together into a YA format. And, I have to say, it’s a pretty successful endeavor.
The hero of our story, Noemi, is a soldier who, along with thousands of her fellows, has volunteered for a suicide run, the latest gambit in an ongoing war between her home planet, Genesis, and Earth. In the middle of a battle she stumbles over a ship abandoned 30 years prior and Abel, the mech (think android or Cylon) who has been stranded there, alone, for all of those years.
In their journey through the human-colonized universe, Gray deftly unveils a complicated moral universe, full of complicated people doing what they think is right. The narrative touches on politics, climate change, religion and morality, identity, and what it means to be a person. It wonders what it is that makes us people and whether or not we have responsibilities to protect or care for anyone else.
That all sounds really heavy, and it is, but the narrative itself is not. There’s whipcrack adventure full of pitched space battles, narrow escapes, and aching sacrifice. It’s a fun read, the text grabs you and pulls you along; I made the mistake of starting to read it during my lunch break at work and before I knew it two hours had passed and I had a whole bunch of emails I needed to reply to.
I can absolutely say that it is the best of Gray’s non-Star War novels. The characters are interesting and complex and the universe she creates is a lot of fun. Her universe explicitly comments on current society.
This is beginner sci-fi of the best kind. It’s like the Heinlein juvenile books, except without all of the sexism and racism. So you can actually give it to a kid without any historical disclaimers. I’ve been thinking of it as the YA version of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion. Which, trust me, is pretty high praise.
If you’re looking for a fun, quick, interesting read or if you’re looking for a YA book to whet a kids’ taste for sci-fi, I definitely recommend this book. Trust me, it’s the good stuff.