Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship? But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne. Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.
A sci-fi book with a race that spans across its galaxy. Once again, I was drawn to a book simply by a few key things. But seriously, this book is about a reluctant girl competing in a race through the cosmos to find a seal on one planet out of 1,001. And the winner is crowned Emperor. Oh, the race also turns deadly. My sci-fi loving heart was ready for this book. Trigger warnings: alcohol use, blood/gore, death/loss of a loved one, emotional withholding from a parental figure, murder, guilt and trauma, science fiction-related violence (i.e., blasters, spaceship battles, etc.)
If I’m being honest, I went into this book not expecting to fall head over heels in love with it. It seemed like it would be interesting and enjoyable, but not something my heart would latch on to. BOY WAS I WRONG. I ENDED UP LOVING THIS BOOK A WHOLE LOT.
Alright, first off, this book started off like I expected. A rough around the edges main character, a girl who hides behind humor and who hasn’t met a risk she won’t take. This kind of humor seems to grate on my nerves just enough for me to find it irritating. I had the same problem with the Aurora Cycle books. I guess I just don’t think it flows super well and it seems like it’s jokes to try and be funny, instead of things that are actually funny.
But, what I loved about this book, and Alyssa in particular, is that she is aware of what she’s doing. She knows she hides behind humor and biting sarcastic remarks. She knows she has emotions she bottles up and shoves down because they’re sometimes to painful to deal with. And wow, did I relate to that. It was this awareness that makes this book all the better. Alyssa knows when she needs to address something. She knows when emotions need to be taken out, examined, and talked out. I loved how she allowed herself to fear and she actually tried to process her emotions. It made everything about her all the more wonderful. She seemed human, instead of just a sarcastic joke machine. Her jokes served a purpose. Her devil-may-care smile was to hide the pain underneath and she acknowledged and dealt with that. It wasn’t easy, and there are times when she just wants to hide under the covers. And gosh, I so get that too. But she has support and she deals with her emotions. Wow, I could go on and on at how well her character was written. This is what I want when I say I want sarcastic girls that live on the edge. There is a purpose behind everything that she does.
Wow, didn’t think I’d talk about humor for so long, but here we are haha. Since we’re on the topic of characters, I’m going to talk about Hell Monkey. Yes, there’s a character named Hell Monkey. I know, I had the same thoughts you’re having right now. And I know you’re going to be shocked when I tell you I completely fell in love with him. Yes, I love a character named Hell Monkey. I feel like that’s a testament at how brilliant Coffindaffer is. Anyway, HM was supportive and loving and sweet in all the best ways. He and Alyssa have the best relationship and I loved how they fit together. They are a fantastic team and play off each others strengths so well. HM was respectful of Alyssa’s boundries and knew when she needed space and knew when she needed his support. Ah, he’s just such a great dude.
I also fell in love with an annoying robot named JR. This one was surprising to me too. I don’t want to say too much, less I move into spoiler territory. But, I will say that if I ever have to be annoyed by a mediabot, JR’s my dude.
I will say, I was expecting a bit more to happen with the whole race through space. I felt like there would be more puzzles, more race involved in this book. Though, I don’t feel like I can complain. Because there’s something sinister lurking beneath everything in this book and nothing is ever fully explained. And wow, do I think that was a brilliant choice. It left me desperate for the next book and incredibly eager to find out more secrets and see just what was going on. There’s an underlying danger in this world and it’s enough to make tension dance across your skin, but it never fully emerges. It had a amazing affect.
I didn’t completely fall in love with the other side characters, but the more I think about them, the more interesting they become. I feel like if I got to know them better and they had more page time, I would have liked them a lot more. They’re all so different, which made it so interesting to see everyone interact.
This book grabbed my arm and jerked me through its’ pages. It’s about a reluctant girl trying to grapple with her grief and where she positions herself in the world. There’s flame tsunamis, a guy named Hell Monkey who’s actually really great, and danger pushing against the surface. There’s wormholes and a race across the galaxy trying to find a seal that will make someone Emperor. Alyssa’s emotional journey was one that I saw; one that I could relate to. Really, this book is all kinds incredible.