Victories Greater Than Death

Tor Teen. (Unstoppable: Bk. 1). Apr. 2021. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250317315. POP.
Gr 9 Up–A space opera with a charming and diverse crew, Anders’s YA debut will find a home with fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Aurora Rising. After rounds of failed IVF, Tina’s mom eagerly accepted a baby alien, with the knowledge that when the rescue beacon activated, her new daughter would go with the Royal Fleet to save the galaxy. Given genetic cloaking to hide her lavender skin and alien DNA, Tina grew up white and relatively normal—until the day her beacon goes off in a public parking lot. The Compassion soldiers who track her down aren’t there to rescue her, and she and her best friend barely escape into space. The Royal Fleet is at war against the Compassion, a genocidal fringe group, and Tina is a clone of their captain returned to them. When the process to return her memories doesn’t work, Tina will have to fulfill her great destiny not as an experienced war hero, but as herself. Anders’s writing is occasionally jarring, but the action sequences and humor make for a compelling read. Tina’s character grapples with everything from navigating romance to the moral consequences of doling out death and destruction as a cog in an intergalactic war. The human cast is diverse in race and ethnicity, and Tina has a f/f romance.
VERDICT The story’s easy affirmation of gender identities, sexual orientations, and mental illness give this space opera a hopepunk flavor that will be refreshing to many teens. Recommended for general purchase.

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