This was my first choice for reading out of the options of June’s The Future is Queer #CannonBookClub, though to be honest all of the 4 possible books for the book club sounded right up my alley! A group of so-called disasters having to come together to save themselves and the universe? A found family that comes together through their shared factor of being outcasts in one way or another? I love to see it.
The Disasters opens with a group of 4 young people (largely centered on the POV of one boy named Nax) as they are being kicked out of an elite space academy called Ellis Station for various reasons. This space station trains people to take on important roles on newly established colony planets in space, as Earth grows increasingly populated. However, despite what should be a one-way trip back to earth for all of these academy rejects, the group witnesses a terrorist attack on the space station, and barely escape. Now they are on the run from authorities as the small crew is turned into the perfect group of scapegoats to blame for the attack. Traveling to different planets to try and find help, and uncovering a terrible plot that will destroy the lives of many in the galaxy, the little team must work together to survive and hopefully save all of their loved ones in the process.
This novel is definitely a fun one with this little team at its helm: on the run, making mistakes, learning as they go, and falling into the perfect roles for themselves as each one draws upon their unique skills. The book itself is not very long, so the pace is fast and energetic, though there are some serious moments for us to learn more about the characters, why they had to leave the academy, etc. The novel’s take on exploring and inhabiting new worlds as colonies is a vibrant one, and it is interesting to see how one author might envision what life on a new planet might realistically look like.
The length and pace of the novel makes for a quick but action-packed read, although this pace doesn’t allow for a certain depth in some areas that have some very juicy potential. For example, Nax’s perceived family drama and his internal struggles with it has it’s quick moments, but they always to be brief to get back to the main issues at hand. This is definitely a thing that requires a certain, tricky balance though, when a tight time constraint is placed on the plot to get things done and solved before the timer hits zero: how much do you slow down to give space for emotional development in contrast to the established mood of urgency to get this depth? Or do you choose to focus on the plot and leave the deeper development for (hopefully) a later instalment? It’s like the difference in feeling I had between watching Dunkirk versus 1917. The former made me anxious by being so unrelenting in its pace and not giving me a second to breathe, while the latter was beautiful but took it’s time lingering at certain parts which made me anxious after the original scene setting up the movie was so insistent on being fast and furious with the task at hand which then made some of the progress feel so conflicting to those very sentiments.
But you know what I’m doing now? Getting way too in my head about a colourful and fun adventure novel. And on top of all that? The cast of characters also has a diversity that comes from the fact that these space colonies are inhabited by people from all over the world, melding together into something new. They each have their little personality quirks, but truth be told, despite the title of this novel, these characters are hardly disasters: they make mistakes and have their issues, and maybe some of the stick out from society in certain ways, but it just makes them all the more real and interesting. I would have loved to have gotten to know each of them more, beyond the stressful situation they all found themselves thrown into. So while at the moment this is a standalone novel, if a sequel were ever to be published I would certainly read it. I love a ragtag team becoming a little family!