The Disasters by M.K. England

disasters cover

Originally published in: 2018

What’s it about: A debut YA space opera that follows five washouts from Space Academy around the galaxies while they try to stop the bad guys before time runs out.

What made me pick it up:  I have been looking forward to this debut for a year or so since I got to hear the author talk about their writing process.

My favorite things: A new take on space adventures! As a Star Wars and Firefly nerd I was ready for some space cowboy antics and this totally delivered. Mix in a completely diverse cast of characters and an excellent narrator and I will hand sell this to everyone. England knows how to keep the adrenaline pumping but also manages the interpersonal relationships and reveals well. This book is so much fun you’ll keep flipping pages until you’re done. Then you’ll sit on your hands and hope the author has more books like this coming soon.

Who it’s great for: Fans of sci fi set in space and the aforementioned diehards for Star Wars and Firefly.

Erica’s rating: four shells

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

when she woke

Originally published in: 2011

What’s it about: In a near-future dystopian United States, Hannah has been subjected to chroming – her skin genetically altered to bright red – to publicly indicate her guilt as a violent felon in a society that has moved quickly toward a theocracy.

What made me pick it up: I’d heard that this was a modern-day Scarlet Letter with a strong Handmaid’s Tale feel, which was impossible to resist.

My favorite things: While the latter part of the book didn’t wow me, the opening and the premise are nearly perfect. Jordan creates a complex main character who wrestles with her own values as she moves away from a total acceptance of the righteous and utterly restrictive laws that rule much of the country. Though she is in a world where religious moralism reigns supreme and bodily autonomy doesn’t exist, her struggle to find peace with herself and her actions gives hope in a time of what feels like insurmountable tension and divisiveness.

Who it’s great for:  Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, Naomi Alderman’s The Power, and other dystopian stories with a strong feminist bent.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Originally published in: 2016 (North American edition 2017)

What’s it about: This reads like a thought experiment gone very, very right.What would happen in a world where women developed a physical power that men couldn’t match?

What made me pick it up: I think I put this on hold because there was a blurb from Margaret Atwood on the cover. But I’m also just a sucker for speculative work that is (post)apocalyptic and/or dystopian.

My favorite things: Somehow this book is both a very heavy-handed critique of global patriarchy and an electrifying story. The novel is bookended by letters between two writers, Naomi and Neil, whose gendered interactions flip the script in a way that will entertain anyone tired of mansplaining.

Who it’s great for:  Fan’s of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Readers looking for unapologetically feminist read that doesn’t sacrifice story for politics.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A sci-fi novella about a teen named Binti – the first of her people to attend a prestigious interstellar university and the struggles she faces getting there.

What made me pick it up: I saw John Green mention the next book Binti: Home on Twitter. A highly recommended sci-fi novella? Sign me up!

My favorite things: This 2016 Nebula Award and 2016 Hugo Award winner for best novella has a quick pace and excellent world building. It will keep you entertained through all of its extraterrestrial escapades. I really enjoyed the character of Binti – she’s full of ingenuity and spunk. It ended on just the right note and now I am eagerly awaiting my holding coming in on the next book. Also, shout out to my alma mater where this author currently teaches.

Who it’s great for: Sci-fi fans. Readers who enjoy a strong female protagonist. Anyone looking for a captivating, but quick, read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find Binti and Binti: Home at Amazon(affiliate links), or look for them in your local library.