Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable #1), by Charlie Jane Anders

Tor Teen, ISBN 9781250317315, April 2021

Tina Mains knows she doesn't have to worry about being ordinary. She's known since she was quite young that she's the clone of an alien war hero, hidden, disguised, on Earth, and when the time comes, the beacon implanted in her body will activate, and her life will change. In the meantime, she just has to survive high school.

When it happens, though, suddenly she's being hunted by the enemies of the woman she was cloned from before the starship that will take her to her destiny even arrives. When it does, barely in the nick of time, she and her best friend, Rachel, are injured, and need the resources of the ship's sick bay before anything else.

But the ship is more battered, worn, and short of crew than it is a shiny, powerful battle cruiser, and it turns out that the Royal Fleet has been counting on the return of their late hero more than she had imagined possible. Tina, Rachel, and four more teenagers they recruit using video games, soon find they will need to learn fast, and start coming up with their own ideas, if they're going to face anything other than the defeat and destruction of the ship they're on.

The six Earthlings are getting acquainted with several alien species, life on a military ship, the politics and ethical system of the Empire. And that Empire has perhaps grown more rigid and inflexible since the death of the woman Tina was cloned from, due to almost two more decades of relentless and unsuccessful war against a breakaway political force that's frankly genocidal. These people need some loosening up, fresh ideas, and reminders of what they used to stand for.

Tina and her friends first have to figure out how to survive and thrive in this strange new environment, before they can save the rest of the galaxy.

This is a teen adventure in space, with really interesting characters, whether human, alien, or in Tina's case, a bit of both. They face dangerous challenges, painful losses, and the need to make real decisions about who they are, and who they want to be.

Enjoyable and satisfying.

I received this book as part of the 2022 Hugo Packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily

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