Alone Out Here

Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2022. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368064729.
Gr 9 Up–It’s 2072 and the end of life on Earth looms with the anticipated eruption of a super-volcano that will render the planet uninhabitable. When it erupts two months ahead of schedule, 18-year-old Leigh Chen, daughter of the President of the United States, is touring the Lazarus, a prototype generation spaceship meant to save millions. It launches with only the children of Global Fleet Planning Commission members aboard, forcing the group of 50-odd teens from around the world to organize themselves into a functional crew while grappling with tensions around governance, power, and surveillance. The discovery that critical supplies are missing from the ship fuels intense conflict over whether to proceed to a lost colony or to return to a space station to rescue a stranded astronaut, potentially the only other survivor in the universe. The worldbuilding shines, with complex global political disputes leading up to the civilization-ending event that continue to ripple out in the interactions among the international cast of characters. Having grown up in the public eye, Leigh is a consummate diplomat and people-pleaser whose inability to voice a strong opinion leads to internal turmoil as the ship’s social structure breaks down. Leigh is Chinese American and secondary characters are Kenyan, Egyptian, and Russian. While thought-provoking political and societal questions are raised, the plot suffers from some significant holes and a frustrating twist ending.
VERDICT Recommended for secondary purchase or where sci-fi collections need a refresh.

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