Reasons for Inclusion: Lesbian and poly relationships, physical disabilities, characters of color
Publisher’s Summary: Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.
This was one of the books that inspired All Our Worlds. I saw it in the bookstore and couldn’t believe my eyes: a badass black woman engineer AND she falls in love with another woman? Instant sell.
I got a bit hesitant partway in: I didn’t like the dystopian notes in the worldbuilding. But that’s an opinion, because the dark elements were an important part of the plot. And the harsh attitudes of the Tangled Axon’s crew are quickly revealed to be an act covering compassionate characters.
The characters are instantly interesting and highly memorable. All are more than they seem to be at first, the captain and the doctor most of all. I can’t say why they’re so amazing for spoiler reasons, but their stories are some of the best parts of the book.
Their mission is exciting, and the ending twist is absolutely unexpected.
On the negative, I found Alana’s attitude towards Nova’s religion to be a little heavy-handed. Sure, Nova has privilege because she doesn’t have a chronic illness, but that doesn’t really give Alana the right to criticize what Nova does with her own body, even if it is extreme. Personally, I would have liked a world that’s more hopeful, where the cast didn’t sneer at the idea of “stowaways with sob stories,” but that’s for another book.
But this incredibly diverse book was still amazing. I shared it with a few friends and they all loved it.