Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

The premise of this book is an interesting conceit that reminds the reader that once Earth reaches the stars, it will be all of Earth that goes. This book still felt very “Western” despite the characters of mixed heritage, but I do appreciate that the author does not attempt awkward cultural appropriation.

As a science fiction novel, I had so many issues and questions with the world-building. A few were big: The method of interstellar travel created some unique plot points, but I wondered about the lack of scientific advancement that would make every ship obsolete once it finishes a journey. Some were smaller: Where was all the food on the new planet coming from?? This is supposed to be a “small” research based, but there’s never a sense of needing to conserve resources, supplies, or even personnel. But this isn’t a hard science fiction novel, so it was relatively easy to wave away such questions and enjoy the adventure.

The adventure is a lot of fun, with a cool cultural premise that sets up plenty of future action. Snyder embraces many useful tropes of the young adult (YA) genre while avoiding a few of the more annoying ones. Lyra has talents in certain fields but isn’t automatically perfect at everything (and I actually appreciate that she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she “grows up,” rather than being a miniature archaeologist following in her parents’ footsteps). The adults in the story are supportive within the context of their roles, rather than acting as adversaries every step of the way. Even the token Love Interest character isn’t 100 percent perfect.

I do wish we could have had a friendship between Lyra and the Love Interest without it becoming romantic. It seemed too inevitable, especially since he’s basically her only option. There’s plenty of room for mixed-gender friendships, even in YA.

I look forward to seeing how this story progresses, especially because Snyder makes it easy to develop your own theories. But I also know Snyder is a fantastic author who is more than capable of surprising me, and ruining my theories in the best ways possible.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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