Chameleon Moon by Roanna Sylver

Parole sucks. Some drug has given everyone super powers and they are now looked over by SkEye, a mass surveillance system that kills anyone who disagrees with the main authority that put everyone in Parole. On top of that, everything is literally crumbling, with entire buildings and blocks sometimes disappearing. Oh yea, and the entire undercity is on fire. Like I said, Parole sucks.

But all is not lost. In the midst of this are a group of people who fight relentlessly against the dark.

When I first found this book, it was billed as a good book for finding hope when everything looks bad, which, I mean given that I’m in the United States at the moment *gestures broadly*.

Needless to say it appealed to me. It was also billed as a book with good Asexual representation, which is lacking in books I’ve read. But what did I actually think?

I absolutely loved this book. More, I needed this book right now. Even outside of representation, the image of so many people fighting relentlessly in a hopelessly dark situation filled me. With the relentless passion of the complex cast of characters and quotes such as “So I can either cry and scream and self-destruct and live in fear, or I can live in that love and do as much good as I can.” Which I would consider for my first tattoo if I got one, or “There is enough air.” Which I know someone has tattooed on their arm.

The relentless pursuit of a better world in the face of darkness was uplifting and inspiring. The characters themselves were all complex and real. The fighters had flaws and struggles, none of them were perfect and all of them had doubts. Even the characters who had done horrible things in their past or were the antagonists were complex and real and conflicted.

The plot was thrilling and intense and the worse things get the more you just want everyone to get out and live a better life. The plot twists are great as well.

As far as themes and representation, wow. Poly rep, transgender rep, Ace rep, disabled rep and probably more that I’m forgetting or missed. It’s all done wonderfully and wrapped up in themes of found family, identity and the resiliency of humanity in the face of evil.

This book was a fantastic first installment to the trilogy this will be a part of and I would recommend this to fans of Biopunk, dystopia, or anyone who needs a burst of hope in the darkness.

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The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma and Nathaniel York are a happily married couple living out their lives as employees of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in a slightly altered version of the 1950’s. Everything is running as normal when an asteroid strikes the coast off of Washington DC.

Lucky enough to have escaped the explosion, the couple make their way through the devastation to what remains of NACA, only to find the situation worse than they had imagined.

In the midst of this, Elma, mathematical genius and former WASP pilot in WWII, struggles against an all too familiar 1950’s patriarchy to become an astronaut. Elma’s struggles collide with 1950’s sociopolitical turmoil and international disaster, one question dominates her mind.

In the quest to leave Earth, when will women get to go?

I could question where to start at the beginning of each post, but honestly that’s half because so many books I’ve read lately are so good I want to say everything at once.

The Calculating Stars grips you from the beginning and never lets go. All of the characters in this book are deep and complex, and in ways that make the book better.

The main antagonist is unfortunately believable (His believability is great, of course, he’s just a massive mysoginistic jerk, especially when it comes to Elma.) And there is a variety of racial diversity in this book that is extremely relevant. Like, for instance, how a black or Taiwanese person might have a more difficult time becoming an astronaut than a white woman. Elma herself is forced to confront her own internalized racism throughout the book as a result of this.

The book is also extremely well researched, to the point where Mary had a chance to visit Nasa and had an astronaut helping her with terminology and making sure everything was 1950’s accurate in all things space (A fact which, as I understand, Mary is eminently pleased).

The Calculating stars is an excellent book in all of the right ways, tackling issues of Race, Gender and climate change while showing powerful healthy relationships, both friendship and marriage. As well as a diverse, complex cast of characters and a compelling plot that keep it moving. If any of this peaks your interest at all, I recommend you pick up this book.

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In Review: Dawn Among the Stars by Samantha Heuwagen

Aliens are real.

Our Sense of Security diminished, blown away into oblivion

Aliens are real.

The above excerpt is from the first page of Dawn Among the Stars, and hooked me the moment I read it. The book follows three different perspectives, all of whom the reader meets to some level in the first chapter but with very different experiences, as they deal with the aftermath of an alien invasion.

In particular it focuses on the mental health aspects of it, PTSD, depression, anxiety, all while presenting a compelling story of survival, endurance, and hope in the face of extreme adversity. And all three perspectives were handled wonderfully.

Between the three perspectives, each is written in first person. Additionally, the book follows one character all the way through to a certain point, then another, then another, without returning to a previous characters perspective (There will be a sequel at some point). The author handled returning to the same timeframe wonderfully and, while small bits of information are repeated between characters, never did it feel repetitive or like the author was trying to reexplain everything again and again.

Even when small things are repeated, its because the characters genuinely need to know, and sometimes we the reader get even more information than we had. Expanding on the mystery of who either race of aliens is and why the fight is happening

I picked this book up because the entire premise fascinated me and it very much delivered. The perspectives were unique and distinct and the portrayals of the mental health effects of an alien invasion were real and very well portrayed. Without getting into spoilers, there is even a budding human alien relationship I liked more than in Freedoms Landing, which I previously reviewed. Though I suspect this is for surrounding world reasons than anything else.

I did have a couple of gripes. There was a small plot hole that I noticed, but the story flowed seamlessly in spite of it. I also didn’t like the cliffhanger ending, but that will be resolved when the sequel comes out.

Overall, I would still recommend this book, especially to people who like scifi and realistic portrayals of mental illness

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