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BOOK REVIEW: The Disasters by M.K. England

| 15 February 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Disasters by M.K. England

Harper Teen
December 2018
Paperback, $19.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Science Fiction

8/10

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

Behind me, new students settle in for their training—six months for civilians relocating to the colonies, and anywhere from one to four years for pilots and officers. Ahead of me, people who have completed their training prepare for their one-way trip out into the black, looking forward to their new lives.
I get neither option. I get awkward parental silences and overly formal politeness instead. Whoo.

Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely. But as the sole witnesses to the attack, they’re also the perfect scapegoats.

The emptiness of space surrounds us, swallows us up in blackness. Stars fill the void beyond the curve of the moon’s surface, beyond the reflected light of Earth, dotting the endless horizon with glittering points of brightness.
It’s silent in the cockpit for a moment. Just four strangers breathing the same air. Being alive. Trying to process. Who would do this? Why would they do this?

Framed and on the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy. They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

“She’s the classiest, most luxurious transport ship on the market, by far the most beautiful ship in Jace’s smuggling fleet, and if you’re up for a bit of crime, she can be ours.”
Every cell of my body says, “Oh god, yes! Crime? I can do some crime!” I want this ship like I’ve never wanted anything in my life.

 

 

Promotional material for this book suggests it is The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy, and those comparisons are certainly not wrong. Though while on this journey with Nax and his crew, this reader couldn’t help but think of Firefly, especially with the introduction of a planet called Serenity, and various descriptions calling to mind settings from the beloved cult classic series.

Our guide leads Asra and me out into the chilly Valen air and across the tarmac, past a collection of bizarre frankenships that completely suit my mental image of what a space murderer might call home. The ships look like they were once stock models of reasonably affordable commercial-line cargo haulers, but they were put under the knife young and never learned how to be civilized.

Fans of The Illuminae Files will also likely find something to enjoy here, what with a group of teens being the only ones standing in the way of the destruction of the universe, along with the sense of humour.

Asra scowls. “There is no way I’m calling this the RSS Manizeh. It’s my ammu’s name, and that’s weird. The ship deserves a new name to go with her new life.”
“We could just keep it simple,” Rion says, rolling slowly onto his good shoulder to face us. “Call it the ESS Jace Is a Wanker.”
“It’s kind of a mouthful,” Zee says, one finger tapping her bottom lip. “But it does have a ring to it.”

It’s great to see a novel that is diverse in terms of nationalities and sexual orientation without feeling forced, and all in all this was a fun read with a little more depth, and characters from different walks of life all coming together for the common good of the universe. The only real point of contention with the blurb is the fact that it suggests the characters don’t get along, though in reality three of the four washouts are involved in a love-triangle of sorts, and there is never any major animosity of tension between the four. Not that this needed to be there for a fun ride, obviously, but the hinting at something that is clearly not there in the text can draw in readers who have a certain thing in mind and might be disappointed to find it isn’t there.

This is a quick and engaging read, and is bound to appeal to fans of the science fiction titles mentioned above more than it will to lovers of The Breakfast Club, though the varied backgrounds of the main characters don’t register this likeness untrue.

Pick this up if you’re looking for some fun space-going adventures, a race against the clock, and a range of different planets on which humans might survive.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to marathon Firefly… again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie O’Connell

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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