I heard almost immediately from friends and friends of friends that this was really sad, so I waited months to read it, when normally I’m all over new Saga like cat hair on black pants. It’s like, I get there are going to be sad installments of this series. I do. This is the story of Hazel’s life from beginning, to, well, I don’t know if they’ll end with her being old, but certainly with her as an adult. And there is no way that she will grow up without some tough things happening in her life. Tough things happen to everyone, and Hazel is the child of wanted fugitives, caught in the middle of a war-torn galaxy, constantly on the run. To paraphrase the author of another ongoing saga, if you’re expecting anything else, you haven’t been paying attention.
But still, it’s hard to read sometimes.
Alana, Marko & Co. have taken up residence on Phang, which was where Sophie was originally from before being sold as a slave. Phang is not a nice place, but it’s out of the way, and what was supposed to be a quick stop turns into months as they all settle in and make new friends, even pseudo family, of some of Phang’s residents. The focus of the story is on Hazel more than ever, as she grows into an inquisitive, kind little girl. It’s always striking to see evidence of her childhood and remaining innocence, even as it’s directly contrasted with terrible things. Things like childhood friendship, first kisses, and the impending birth of a sibling are presented side by side with hunger and poverty, refugees, and violent, senseless death.
I liked seeing Alana and Marko build up this pseudo family. I liked Petrichor gradually being absorbed into it, even as she’s still somewhat of an outsider, and really only there for Hazel. I liked the grey areas. But there was the looming dread the whole book, purposefully so, and it felt terrible to watch it descend.
I hope things get better for them next time around, I really do.