Got in juuuuuust under the wire with this one! Another #CannonBookClub pick, another book I probably wouldn’t have picked up without being told to do so! Fortunately, it was fast-paced, warm-hearted, just dangerous enough hold me in suspense, and (last but not least) cute.
The basic set up is, well, pretty basic: misfit teens up against their own social structure and a corrupt regulatory force in a race against time to stop the big bad thing from being big and bad. The misfits get into all sorts of space mischief, the powers that be thwart them at every opportunity, misinformation spreads like wild fire, and the kids are on their own to take down a giant.
Luckily, while the story may be standard, the characters within are not! Our teens come from a wide mix of backgrounds; they practice different faiths, come from different countries, live in different family structures, are who they say they are and love who they want to love despite the world not always affirming and supporting their identities. Unlike a lot of “well, I guess we’re all going to have to just get along” stories, the teens here DO get along; they don’t spend time waffling over allegiances, plotting against each other, doubting motives, or outwardly judging- they wrap around each other almost immediately, sharing safety, stories, secrets, and food.
“Nothing wrong with eggs for dinner at ten o’clock at night when you’re about to commit a crime.”
Our main character (the entire tale is told through our perspective) is Nax Hall, a wannabe Han Solo from North Carolina. He’s a tough cookie, but he’s quick to love, fast to cry, and hellbent on not relying on his family. I enjoyed him for the most part, but there were a couple little moments that didn’t sit well with me. Nax (well, I suppose the voice of M.K. England, really) goes out of their way to talk others into carrying guns, how guns are really important, and how it’s necessary to carry them (the kids carry non-lethal chemical tranquilizers) because it’s “better to have one and not need one” than to be in the opposite situation. Other characters (sometimes Nax as well) are freaked out by arming themselves, regardless of the lethality. While it’s difficult to have a space adventure without weaponry, and I am not opposed to characters using guns, I was rubbed the wrong way by the insistance of having to carry them. The “better to have one and not need one” is often bandied around in the gun-control debate here in America, frequently about the kinds of weapons that a human being DOES NOT NEED AND WILL ONLY USE TO RAPIDLY KILL MANY PEOPLE, but I digress. This moment didn’t color the entire story for me, but it did snag my attention and come back several times to set my alarms ringing.
If you are looking for a quick and cute read, you can still read this one in time for #CannonBookClub! It’s currently available in audio format on Hoopla, and the performance by James Fouhey was delightful. He does pretty well with quite a few accents, and I particularly enjoyed his automated error message line readings.