I was sent an eARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.
But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with her best friend, Dahlia. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn his colony’s darkest secret.
To save everyone they love, they’ll both have to commit treason.
During one twenty-seven-hour night, these four runaways must stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, or the things they fear most will be all that’s left.
Well before its release, there was quite the buzz around this book, both positive and negative. The initial buzz was full of excitement for a diverse sci-fi novel, highly anticipated by many people, including myself. After the first ARCs were given out and the first reviews coming in, some criticism came up. And before I share my own review with you, I think it’s important to say something about that criticism, because it obviously influenced my reading experience and because other people can go into these matters better than I can. If you would like to read a well-thoughtout critical review pointing out the main two issues with this novel, I advise you to read this blog post. In short, Bookshelves & Paperbacks explains how there are two problems with this book: it centers colonist guilt and has flawed racial representation. First of all, there’s the erasure of racism, which invalidates people’s struggle with it. Secondly, there’s the issue with the war between humans and chimera: humans have invaded this planet they think is uninhabited, but it turns out its inhabitants are only sleeping and they are not happy to find the humans upon their waking, especially since the humans have (accidentally) already killed many of them while they were sleeping. So this is a matter of colonization, which, it should be clear by now, is not a rightful thing and should not be deemed that way. Weirdly though, in this novel it’s the chimera that are considered monsters instead of the humans. I felt this was an important review to read before starting this book, and I have certainly kept these matters in the back of my head while reading the book myself.
While I absolutely agree with Bookshelves & Paperbacks’ review, I also think this book has a lot of strengths (and she did point those out as well, of course!). The book is full of wonderful, diverse characters, all with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and I loved seeing how they were represented – even though of course I can’t judge any of rep myself. What I loved most, was how this was all incredibly normalized. I also loved the romance in this book, as it was very supportive and equal and just generally cute. The plot read like a Doctor Who episode to me, and as a massive Whovian, I loved that! But at several parts of the story, I could almost picture the Doctor yelling at these people that THEY invaded this planet and so who were the actual monsters in this war? And then, growing more and more frustrated as the humans would see no reason: Have you ever even tried to look at it from the chimera’s perspective? While it has a lot of strong characters, good world-building, cute romance and an action-packed plot, it’s clear to see why the plot – written from the perspective of colonists – could likely be hurtful to a lot of people. That’s why I would only recommend it if you’re not likely to be hurt by this matter, and I would also urge you to read it critically. But if you do, there are a lot of things to love about it as well!
I’m not gonna lie, I found it really hard to review this book. The reason for that is mostly that I fully see the problematic aspects of it, but I also did really enjoy this book and I think it has a lot of aspects that might be incredibly helpful to people. For example, where this book could be hurtful to POC, it could be really helpful to LGBTQ+ people. Anyway, I hope I helped you get a good sense of whether or not you want to read it, and I tried my best to point out the problems while also sticking to my own opinion and reading experience. If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments!
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