Friday 31 July 2020

#CBR12 Book 51: "The Disasters" by M.K. England

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

#CBR12 Bingo: Violet

All Nax Hall has ever dreamed of is going Ellis Station Academy and qualifying as a pilot. Unfortunately, he fails his entrance exam and is sent packing after less than twenty-four hours. Sharing his fate are Rion, Case and Zee, and while they're all waiting for their one-way shuttle back to Earth, they are witness to a terrorist attack on the space station. The four teens manage to steal themselves a small shuttle and narrowly escape getting killed by the attackers. While they know that jumping their space ship into one of the new colony worlds means they can never return home, they have no other choice if they want to escape being exploded.

After crash-landing their shuttle on al-Rihla, one of Earth's earliest colony planets, the four runaways decide that they need to contact the authorities and warn them about the attack on the Academy. They quickly discover, however, that individuals on board the station were clearly working with the terrorists, have covered up the extent of the attack, and blamed what damages couldn't be hidden on Nax and his new crew, who after all, stole a space shuttle and did an unauthorised jump through space. All channels of communication to Earth are cut off, there is no way for our young fuck-ups to warn anyone about anything. They also only barely avoid getting arrested, helped by the mysterious Asra, who wants to help them, in return for some assistance with a heist - they need to steal another space shuttle and take her with them when they fly off-planet. 

The five young fugitives come to realise that the terrorists' plot is much wider-ranging than just taking over Ellis Station Academy. They only have a limited amount of time to track down help and try to save multiple colony planets from being destroyed. 

This was one of the four books selected for Cannonball Book Club's June meeting - The Future is Queer. There's a bunch of LGBTQIA-representation here, as well as representation of other kinds. Nax is bi, Rion is gay, Zee is trans. Nax and Asra (as well as their families) are Muslim. This was a fun book once it got going properly, but I'm not giving it more than 3.5 stars because I wish we'd had a bit more backstory and characterisation given to Rion, Case and Zee, and it took me quite a while to really get into the book (even with the action-packed start). I picked it up and put it down multiple times in the first few chapters. Once they all agree on their exciting space heist and the subsequent rescue mission, I read through the rest of the book quite quickly.

Nax has a complicated relationship with his parents and older brother. Asra's family situation is also very complicated. I wish I could tell you more about the others, but that wasn't really covered, which is one of the things I would have liked MORE of. 

Still, this is England's debut novel and I'm sure she's going to improve in time. It wasn't a bad book, it just could have been even better with a few improvements. 

Judging a book by its cover: Purple is my favourite colour, so I'm in no way complaining about the choice of background colour here. I just think that maybe the cover could have been a bit more elaborate than a space helmet with some spray paint on it. It's a bit too minimalist for my tastes. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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