Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Distiller: Hikari Loftus
3/5 Stars

Empress of a Thousand Skies
by Rhoda Belleza
320 pages
Razorbill (February 7, 2017)

This is the first sci-fi that I’ve read in awhile that felt like watching an episode of Star Trek 😍. Something about the politics, the technology, and the way we learn about the different races/species gave me Star Trek vibes, and I loved that. .
When it comes to understanding what’s happening in “Empress” there is a lot that readers have to learn about the world and it’s tech and politics. I feel like much of the plot rides on the world building, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m just saying that you’re going to have to really pay attention to detail. .

There is heavy importance placed on “cubes” that each lifeform-person has. The cube keeps them linked to the internet as well as holds and records their memories and their actions. People can replay their memories exactly how they happened. It’s a really interesting look at memory and how we recall as well as how the remembering is part of what makes us who we are. .

There is a history that we need to learn to understand the war and racial discrimination that happens within the story. I’m not sure if this was meant to be a social commentary, but the parallels to our own political struggles definitely makes this sci-fi more relatable that you might think. .
Because of how much we have to learn in the beginning, I didn’t think this story got really interesting for me until the halfway point. Thats when the action picked up and the mystery. .

Just going on the basic storyline, I thought that it was all pretty predictable from the get go, and I didn't find much of the plot surprising. It kind of reminded me more of the middle grade genre where things are a bit more spelled out. I actually think I feel pretty comfortable recommending this to younger readers— maybe your tween that isn’t quite ready for full on YA, but is growing out of middle grade. It’s got its own language for swear words, and there is a tiny smidge of romance. .

I do think that the technology dealing with constant connection to the internet as well as the racial discrimination of characters in the book make for some very interesting and important conversation.


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