In this Sci-Fi novel we follow Aster. She’s considered “odd-mannered, obsessive, [and] withdrawn” by the others on the ship, who call her an ogre and a freak, but there’s no truth to their claims. She wishes there was. Aster is just Aster. She lives in the slums of the HSS Matilsda, a ship organised like the antebellum South, where dark-skinned passengers like Aster are considered to be less than human. Aster, when retracing her deceased mother’s footsteps, learns that there may be a way off of this ship and a method of escape, if she’s willing to fight for it.
I absolutely adored this book. Wholly and completely. I adore Rivers Solomon’s writing and the way they approach complex topics. This is a very heavy book, so if you’re someone who needs trigger warnings please do check them out below.
This book really explores the collective trauma that can be held within a community, as well as racism, sexism, gender identity, ableism, and more. As I said, it discusses a lot. I loved the way Solomon distinguished the different areas of the ship by how they spoke and how they acted, adding a layer of realism to the work.
Also the fact that the upper decks (light skinned, in power) have a homogenous method of speech and societal norms, no matter which deck, versus the distinct differences between the lower decks, deck to deck.
On top of the impressive discussions, this is just a very well written sci-fi book. The discussions are woven into the narrative so they don’t feel clunky or forced. Instead we are simply following Aster as she learns about the ship, she learns the science behind issues they’re having, she learns more about healing people, about people, and about herself. And the ending of this book? Totally not what I expected, left me wanting more!!!
On CAWPILE I gave this book:
For an overall rating of 9.14 which is of course a 5 star read!!
Highlight here for trigger warnings: ableism, abortion, blood, child abuse (sexual, implied), chronic illness, confinement, death (children and adult), gun violence, grief, homophobia, lynching, medical content and trauma, mental illness, misogyny, paedophilia, panic attacks/disorders, physical abuse, police brutality, racism, rape, religious bigotry, self harm, sexual assault (mentioned), slavery, suicide (mentioned), torture, violence
Once again please do check out the trigger warnings if you possibly need them as this is a really heavy book, but if you’re able to read through it I think it’s worth the read.