These are the remainder of my August review books! And I’ll say this about each of them: They were all incredibly unique!
When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.
Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind? Have you ever dreamt of a better world? Can a dream sustain a lifetime?
A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.
And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.
It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.
And something always goes wrong.
Shoutout to Jeann @ Happy Indulgence for putting this one on my radar! It published in Australia (and UK) first, but I was lucky enough to get to read a review copy here! (Though I won’t lie and pretend I wasn’t deeply tempted to buy it from one of those other countries first hah.) And I will say this: if you are expecting 500 pages of intense action, that isn’t what you’ll find here. It’s very character driven, which is fine by me, but a heads up. That said, there is a lot that happens during the course of the book- I didn’t find it to be only character driven, that is.
I absolutely loved reading each character’s personal journey, what led each of them to pursue this life in space. It did take me a couple chapters to get the hang of who everyone was, but it wasn’t as overwhelming as I’d assumed. Each character was so well developed that it was easy to decipher who was who. And they (as well as their motivations for leaving planet Earth behind) were so different that I found it wildly interesting. Because this book begs the question, would you leave everything behind to become a space pioneer?
I thought that the author did a great job of making daily space life seem really authentic. Because sure, everyone probably dreams of all the exciting parts, like the launch, and finally landing on their new planets and such, but most of it is really mundane. People were homesick, scared, sad, even depressed. And some people became physically ill, just as they would on Earth. It felt very realistic without being boring. And when the time came for action, wow did that deliver!
My only minor complaint is that I do wish we knew a bit more about what happened next. There is certainly room for a sequel (or seven) but I also found it sort of fitting, since this was truly a book about life in space rather than a space adventure itself. But please do note that I am here for literally any further slice of these characters’ lives that Temi Oh would like to bestow upon us.
Bottom Line: A very character driven space exploration novel that made me feel all the things for all the characters. And also if I too could ever be a space cowboy.
Based on the shocking Beslan school siege in 2004, this is a brave and necessary story about grief, resilience, and finding your voice in the aftermath of tragedy.
On the day she brings her sweet little sister, Nika, to school for the first time, eighteen-year-old Darya has already been taking care of her family for years. But a joyous September morning shifts in an instant when Darya's rural Russian town is attacked by terrorists. While Darya manages to escape, Nika is one of hundreds of children taken hostage in the school in what stretches to a three-day siege and ends in violence. In the confusion and horror that follow, Darya and her family frantically scour hospitals and survivor lists in hopes that Nika has somehow survived. And as journalists and foreign aid workers descend on her small town, Darya is caught in the grip of grief and trauma, trying to recover her life and wondering if there is any hope for her future. From acclaimed author Julie Mayhew comes a difficult but powerful narrative about pain, purpose, and healing in the wake of senseless terror.
I don’t even know where to begin with this one, so I’ll start with this: It’ll tug at your heartstrings. Even more so when you think of all the similar events that have happened in just the past couple weeks alone. Darya’s sister is lost in a senseless terrorist attack at her school, and Darya’s family (as well as their entire town) must try to pick up the pieces. (Please note, as the author explains, this is based on a real event, which makes it all the more heartbreaking- and obviously, a trigger warning.)
What I Liked:
It’s funny, in the last Julie Mayhew book I read (The Big Lie), I freaking loved the first half of the book. I’m talking five-stars, mind blown, all the feelings loved. And that is exactly what happened here. The beginning is awful and raw and I found myself wholly immersed. I will admit, it was hard for me to read (since I had my own kids, reading about kids dying guts me, but that isn’t a complaint, I knew this going in of course!) so it took me some time, but I was hooked. Darya had practically raised Nika, as her mother was largely unable to due to mental illness. Darya feels like she not only lost a sister, but her whole purpose. And the family, as you can imagine, struggles to handle it too. It seems horrifyingly honest and when the media circus comes to town, terribly realistic.
This part of the story was well crafted and full of emotion. Darya trying to reach out to find where she would fit was of course believable. And her need to escape her small town to seek opportunity in Moscow made tons of sense. But this leads me to…
What I Didn’t:
Here’s the thing: the second half of the story wasn’t necessarily even bad, it was just… different. A whole different tone, really. It became a lot more about Darya trying to navigate the big city, but I just wasn’t as invested. I liked Darya, and I was rooting for her, but as the story turned from one about family and picking up the pieces after tragedy, I had trouble caring about Darya’s new friend, or her crushes, or what have you. Which is perhaps unfair, but I simply didn’t find this part of her journey compelling. It lacked the emotion of the first half. Where I had cared about Darya’s grief, and her bond with her family, and even her trying to move on after the unthinkable, in this second half, I just felt… nothing, really.
Bottom Line: A stunning first half based on an unimaginable tragedy and a family trying to stay afloat, the second half was a bit underwhelming, especially in comparison.
You're riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, "You are going to die."
Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.
From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"
This is one delightfully messed up book that kept me guessing throughout! And look- you will question your humanity as you fly through the pages, because okay, the entire premise is horrifying, and I promise, it fully delivers.
Here’s the thing: you need to go into this as blind as possible. There are twists upon twists, and just when you think you know where things are going.. you’re wrong because more twists. It’s awesome like that. But again, this is why you need to know as little as possible! I was honestly amazed how the author was able to make such a huge cast of characters worth caring about. Yes, there is one main character, but we learn a lot about side characters, and they’re equally important.
And then there’s my favorite part: The Passengers is one of the most thought-provoking, terrifyingly plausible books I have ever read. There’s commentary on social media, on mob mentality, racism, classism, sexism, and just about every other unhealthy function of society. And the moral gray areas are so prevalent they’ll make you question everything you thought you knew- about society and your own choices. Because make no mistake, this book will ask you to make your own decisions along the way; you simply can’t help but do so. And as you read this thrilling, unputdownable novel, you’ll find yourself in the main character’s shoes more than once.
Bottom Line: It’s a must-read for anyone who can handle the gritty content. The excitement and surprises are on full blast, but it also is a stunning analysis on both these characters, and humanity as a whole.