*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Light Years
Author: Kass Morgan
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity. Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line. These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…
Light Years is a sci-fi novel that is perfect for fans of The Illuminae Files or The Lunar Chronicles. Four teens from vastly differing backgrounds are thrown together on a cadet team as they learn to navigate missions and work to gain an education in the face of an imminent war against an enemy known only as the Spectres. This book is packed full of diverse characters each with varied pasts and all who are kicking ass as this story unfolds. The author doesn’t call any special attention to these characters and it’s refreshing to read about them in such a naturally presented context. Each character is living their story, same as the others.
This book really spends a lot of time establishing this universe and providing the reader with context, setting up the remainder of the series. The story is presented in four separate perspectives which provides us with a close look at each of the primary characters’ inner dialogues. We get to know each of them so well. Each voice is so distinct and each characters is unique with their strengths, flaws, triumphs, and anxieties. Despite having so many characters, Moran is able to provide each with a complete story arc. Arran, Cormack, Vesper, and Orelia each experience their own transformation throughout the story. This book contains excellent character development for being so short. The academy that these four are enrolled in challenges their worlds and everything they thought they knew. Their perspective begin to open up beyond the worlds that they grew up in. There’s still so much more for them to learn in books to come.
The story moves along quickly and is engaging and very sweet at times. There are quite a few romances throughout–a few I could have done without–but it offers a nice balance to the rigorous training that the students are engaging in. There are many lighthearted moments to balance the racial and discriminatory tensions that arise throughout the book. The book has a well-rounded discussion of friendship, romance, espionage, colonization, status, classicism, ableism, and so much more.
I’m excited to read book two in this series. It has a lot of potential to be a heart-pounding, intense, and also romantic series. I can see this book being incredibly popular among a wide-audience of readers.