“I never thought of escaping into a book. So as I read, I’m surprised how quickly the words take me from the hospital bed and into the woods.”
In the near future, Emmet has been chosen as one of ten candidates to leave Earth and set out for Eden. If selected, he will have the opportunity to mine for a mysterious substance called Nyxia, and thus be handsomely rewarded as a result.
But first, Emmet must beat his fellow competitors, and this first installment follows his journey in learning how to discern friend from foe, and of how he must weigh his options in order to come out on top by the end.
I highly enjoyed this book. I don’t think it’s one for a re-read, but the initial journey through was a thoroughly compelling one as characters were quite difficult to read, yet there was just enough room for me to suppose there was more character development to be unraveled, and I really liked that suspense.
Furthermore, although this book is highly reminiscent of The Hunger Games, it sets itself apart by establishing strong friendships early on in the book. These competitors must inevitably weed each other out as the tension continues to build between them, but the fact that they’re good friends from the start was a great point of conflict, and the dilemma of their growing alliances were heightened as a result.
Oh, and I liked the function of the villain in this story! We don’t know precisely why she behaves the way that she does, but that made her a pleasantly unpredictable (and quite frankly, scary) element of the plot. Not to mention, although I didn’t expect this book to end on the abrupt cliffhanger that it did, the dramatic tension was wrapped up quite neatly by the end, and I felt overall very satisfied as a result.
Bottom line, although the atmosphere of this book is relatively low-key in terms of action and adventure, it surprisingly evoked visceral reactions from me: I gasped in shock, laughed at relationship dramas, and sighed in sadness, and such moments of emotional gravity really made this book worth the read for me.
Now to be completely transparent, this book will disappoint you if you’re looking for some wild space opera with aliens and outlandish settings. These characters stay in a stagnant environment for the majority of this book, so there’s not much to see in terms of world-building, and the plot does get a bit repetitive at times.
Thankfully, I found this book enjoyably suspenseful as I’m more of a psychological warfare kind of gal. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief over the fact that a major corporation is putting children in space (you know, over smart adults) and the fact that they’re being trained in competition against each other (again, why), but as this is the first part in the puzzle, I won’t dole out judgment until the next installment.
Therefore, recommended for ages 13 and up: this book might seem very Hunger Games meets space, but I ended up enjoying it much more for its diverse cast and their intriguing interactions than anything else.
Final thoughts: Suspenseful, diverse, easy to read!
This book isn’t so much a space opera as it is about kids from different backgrounds learning to overcome their prejudices, and I loved that: Emmet isn’t the most endearing protagonist out there, but he has a desperate need to succeed at his mission, and I thought such characters struggles were well-conveyed.
In that, the author takes time to dig into the psyche of desperation, poverty, and prejudice, and I found his prose beautifully succinct and telling as a result.
My rating: 4 to 4.5/5 stars
***Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated here are solely my own and have not been influenced in any way.