Book Blog: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon

Posted by on Mar 8, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon

available in text and audio, in episodes or in full, from the publisher, Serial Box

The Vela

Summary from the publisher:
In the fading light of a dying star, a soldier for hire searches for a missing refugee ship and uncovers a universe-shattering secret.Asala Sikou is used to looking after number one while crisis reigns in her dying planetary system. But when she’s hired to find a missing refugee ship, she discovers that this is no ordinary rescue mission, and she must play a role in deciding the fate of the whole universe.

What I thought:
I was sent an early copy of this book from the publisher.

I’ve heard good things about Serial Box–and had friends work with them–but I had yet to read any of their serialized novels. I admit to some skepticism. In the case of The Vela I’ve read and loved three of the four authors in the project, and they have unique styles. How would a book flow together? Would it feel disjointed?

To my delight, yes, the book flowed together, and to my surprise, no, it didn’t feel disjointed or like related short stories. It worked–and very well at that, as these are among the best science fiction writers out there right now. Their individual approaches were noticeable if the reader is familiar with their works (S.L. Huang writes breathless action; Becky Chambers has a knack for subtle, emotional touches) but they flowed together seamlessly.

The Vela is action-packed and visceral, full of emotions, insight, and punch-to-the-gut revelations. The sun is dying, the planetary system with it. The worlds closest to the sun struggle onward as the outer planets succumb to frigid temperatures. Asala is a child refugee from a dying world, grown to become a skilled assassin and bodyguard. When the president of a privileged planet tasks her finding a lost refugee ship, she balks. She has no desire to revisit the dark memories and places of her past. The fact that the president is including his meddlesome hacker child in the mission makes it even more unappealing. However, an uneasy partnership is struck, and Asala soon finds that the search for the Vela will uncover secrets that could save–or destroy–the entire system.

Every character in this is complex and real. Asala has a grittiness to her that is still relatable. Niko, the nonbinary hacker, is idealistic to a fault; I want to add that it’s fantastic to see a nonbinary lead character, and it fully showed how gender wasn’t necessary to define who Niko was or how they behaved. The pacing of the book is extraordinary, especially in light of the alternating chapters by different authors. This is a space opera that really has it all–intense action, near-death scrapes, and tear-inducing scenes. I came to love these characters, and the dramatic conclusion left me in awe.

I’m adding this book to my shortlist for best novel nominees for this year. It’s that good.

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