The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

GoodReads Summary:
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
The Space Between WorldsReview:
The Space Between Worlds is a story that completely sucked me in. I was so hooked almost immediately. I think the author did so many things right in this story. Cara is a ‘traverser’ meaning she is one of the people that travel to alternate realities. She’s a pretty valuable asset to the company she works for because in this book you can only travel to alternate realities that your counterpart is no longer living. Cara is only alive in seven other realities. So, she’s able to travel to most of the other realities. She’s also training to become an analyst because there are rumors that the company will be announcing soon that they now have a way to collect the data remotely instead of using their traversers. She needs to be able to stay in the city for a certain amount of time so she can gain residency in the city or she will have to return to a home that isn’t familiar to her.
Things get exciting when Cara is sent to a reality where her counterpart is still alive. This scene where Cara is arriving was so intense. This book excelled at having great action and excitement, but not so much that it was non-stop. When Cara is fighting to stay alive after arriving in a reality she never should have traveled to, I was gripping the book so hard. I’d become so invested in Cara and her secrets. Cara is a really complicated character. She has secrets and I would definitely consider her to be a bit morally grey. She’s had a hard life and she’s doing everything she can to make a better future for herself. She’s done some not great things, but I found that I couldn’t help but really like her anyway. Cara manages to survive the horrible repercussions of traveling to a reality where her other was still alive with the help of someone from her past. But in this universe, he is completely different. Cara learns some valuable secrets while she’s in this reality and she uses them when she returns.
This book was incredible. I think it did a great job of highlighting the inequalities of this world. For example, most of the traversers are people from poor areas because these groups of people are more likely to die in their environments than those that have families who have lives in the cities for generations. This was a really interesting aspect of the story. I also really enjoyed that we got to see some of the other alternate realities or at least hear about them. I thought it was really interesting to see the different potential lives of Cara. I also really enjoyed the romance, if you can call it that. Cara cares for her handler, Dell, but she has all of these things she thinks because Dell has money and her family has lived in the city for generations. But we eventually learn the reason for Dell’s behavior and it was such a great example of people letting assumptions guide their thoughts and actions.
There were some really interesting family dynamics as well. I can’t say too much about it because part of the dynamic has to do with Cara’s biggest secret. But I really liked seeing how her family lived and seeing her relationship with her sister grow.
One last thing I want to mention is the mythology, I don’t know that mythology is the correct word for what I’m talking about but that’s what I’m going to use. This aspect of the story was so interesting. Cara has learned the mythology of a goddess (I think) from her mentor, an analyst that used to be a traverser. He’s told her about his beliefs and she’s taken them as her own. When she is traversing, she feels this goddess holding Cara in her arms and transporting her. I really enjoyed these parts of the story because they were really thoughtful and it was a way for Cara to think about things differently.
I just cannot say enough good things about this book. It might just end up on my 2020 favorites list. I cannot wait to see what Johnson will write next. I really hope to see more from this world.

Quotes:

“I guess it’s easy to be confident when you’re helpless, easy to be fearless when you have nothing left to lose.”

“Because that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else.”

“They say hunting monsters will turn you into one. That isn’t what’s happening now. Sometimes to kill a dragon, you have to remember that you breath fire too. This isn’t a becoming; its a revealing. I’ve been a monster all along”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

GoodReads Summary:
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)Review:
The Last 8 follows Clover as the world is ending because aliens have come to Earth, and they’re not friendly. Everyone Clover has ever known is dead. She travels aimlessly around the United States for many months until she hears a radio broadcast made by another survivor. She travels to what used to be Area 51. This is where she meets seven other survivors. But they’re happily hiding in their military base and aren’t interested in doing anything to fight back against the aliens, until Clover convinces them anyway.
This story was incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect while I was listening. The plot twists were interesting and kept the story going at a steady pace. I think one of my favorite things about this story was that it’s realistic. The world ends and all of Clover’s loved ones are gone, she really struggles with suicidal thoughts and considers killing herself several times while she’s traveling alone. Most of the ‘end of the world’ stories have these hopeful teenagers that think they’re invincible, but this book has a diverse cast of characters that just want the aliens to go away. They want to hide and not have to be responsible for saving the world.
Clover was a complicated girl. She was raised by her grandparents, grew up as the only Latinx girl in a small town. I really liked that this was addressed even though that small town was soon unrecognizable. I also liked that Clover was sort of a jerk. She pushed people to do things they don’t really want to do. She pushes her new friends to ask questions, to do something, anything. She isn’t the hero they wanted, but she is the one they needed.
Overall, this might be one of my new favorite science fiction stories. There was action and drama. There were interesting relationships that I was easily invested in. There was a diverse cast of characters that each brought something to the story. I loved the twists and turns that the characters went through. They learned things about themselves that they never wanted to know. They learn things about each other too. I think this story was so well done and I’m confused why this book hasn’t been talked about more. I will now go to my rooftop and scream about this book so that others will read it.

Quotes:

“I don’t belong to the sky anymore. Hope is the thing that kills me in the end. Because it doesn’t take my body, but it takes my soul.”

“I’ve learned that there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.”

“My instinct is not to speak, but I’m tired of silence. I’m tired of not knowing how to bridge the gaps between me and the others.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

#SciFiMonth – Diverse Science Fiction

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com.

Hi, lovelies! I was inspired by a friends post from last year’s #SciFiMonth and wanted to do my own version. Kal from Reader Voracious did a post about diverse YA science fiction last year and I thought of so many books I could do for my own version. So, thanks to Kal for the inspiration and let’s get right into it. I’m going to list them by age range, starting with middle grade.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee: This story was a mix of Korean folklore, science fiction, and a bit of magic. We follow Min, who has fox-magic (which is thought to no longer be around). She sets out to find her brother and ends up way over her head. I really enjoyed this book. I’ve loved all of the stories that have been published through Rick Riordan Presents. I loved the combination of things that made this story what it was. It’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my daughters library. Also, the audiobook was great.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez: This is my second favorite of the books that have come from Rick Riordan Presents. Sal is a boy who lives in Miami. He has diabetes, but he also has the ability to create holes in the universe. Sal is a little firecracker, but Gabi is even more so. They both come from fascinating families that I couldn’t help but adore. Sal and his father are Cuban and that is a big part of the story too. Sal and Gabi team up to try to fix the holes he’s created in the universe. Sal is also grieving his Mami. I think this is such a great middle grade story.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee: In what used to be the U.S. a magical virus has infected some, leaving them with magical abilities, and most others dead. Noam gets sick and wakes up in the hospital as a technopath. This attracts interest from government officials in ways that Noam isn’t sure he likes. This story gets pretty wild even though the fries 15% or so is pretty slow. Noam is bisexual, Colombian, and Jewish. This story is full of grey morals and I really enjoyed it.

The Disasters by M.K. England: This disastrous found family is one of my all time favorites. Nax is bisexual and comes from a Muslim family. He’s made mistakes and has a lot of self-doubts, but it was really great to see him overcome it. Then there’s Rion who is black, queer, and British. He’s the son of a diplomat, so he always knows exactly what to say. I loved the flirtations and hints of a potential romance between Rion and Nax. It was just enough that it didn’t take center stage over the rest of the story. Case is the third point of the sort of, but not really, love triangle. She’s super smart and struggles with anxiety. Next up is Zee, who is trans, and a kick-ass doctor who will literally kick your ass. Finally, there’s Asra, who is Muslim and we see her wearing a hijab and taking time to pray. She’s also the stepkid of a crime boss that she wants to take down. They essentially have to take down the government and it’s wonderful.

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune: “A queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.” Nick lives in a world where ‘extraordinaries’ exist, people with special abilities. After he meets his idol, he’s decided he needs to do whatever he can to become an extraordinary. This book was so wonderful. It highlights the ADHD experience, friendship, fan fiction writing, and many other important things.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: Amani is kidnapped to play body double to the cruel half Vathek princess, Maram. Too much happens in this series for me to summarize. Amani is amazing. Her romance is great. Maram is horrible at first but has great development. I ended the series really loving her. They both get romances, one of which is female/female. I believe it’s also inspired from Moroccan culture. This one is going to make my 2020 favorites list (and the audiobooks are great!)

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor: This book is compared to The Lunar Chronicles often, but it’s honestly better (and I really liked that series). Set in a world called Earth Adjacent (because technology destroyed Earth) we follow The Technician who illegally helps people with mechanic work. Then the Commissioner’s son, Nathaniel, finds a lead to the Technician’s identity. Things get a little wild here with overthrowing the government and an arranged marriage. Eliza, the Queen’s spy, comes to Earth Adjacent and things get even more exciting. There’s a romance between two female characters that I completely adored.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: Get ready to be confused. I was confused for the entire series and despite that I enjoyed the shit out of this book. I’m going to talk about all three books. The writing was incredible. There are several perspectives we follow and they are all written so well. There’s one that’s written in second person and it was such an interesting way to tell the story. The characters draw you in and the world is incredible. I just cannot say enough good things about this series. I’m hoping to read the rest of Jemisin’s backlist titles in 2021.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: This series is such a fun one. Each book follows a different set of characters. This universe is so interesting. There are so many different species. It was such a treat to learn about them all. Some are very specific about gender roles and how they change as the species age. I think this book did a wonderful job of showing a unique, interesting, and diverse universe.

These are some of my favorite diverse science fiction books for all different age ranges. They’re all diverse for different reasons and they’re all wonderful books that I highly recommend. What diverse books would you recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.