*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
This book was a complex, somewhat intense YA adventure, with lots of diverse characters, set on a far away planet’s moon. The pace varied from fast-paced action/fight scenes to slow-paced scenes of inner turmoil and stolen moments between characters.
There was also some interesting commentary that I wasn’t expecting, basically about how humans ruin everything. I agreed with the commentary, but it was a little heavy handed. One character outrightly said humans are parasites. The moon was kind of a character of her own, and she was angry and hurt by the destruction. And pretty much the whole premise was about how the humans showed up on the moon that was home to the native gargoyles/chimera and then proceeded to go to war with them and how now there are kids and teens living there that had no say in the matter and call this place home but have to deal with the consequences. I was struck with this immense sadness at one point though for a dragon in the book because it wasn’t his fault that any of this was happening or that he was big and scary and deadly, he was just an innocent creature harmed because of the humans and chimera. That was a more subtle moment that I appreciated.
And if you’re looking for books with diversity rep, as I mentioned, this one had a lot of that—gay guys, bisexual characters, an asexual guy, a pansexual girl, a non-binary person, a trans girl, a deaf girl who used ASL, a guy with three fingers on one hand, a guy with anxiety and PTSD, POC characters (including Latina, Cuban, and Nigerian/Indian/Portuguese). I don’t fall into any of those categories, so I can’t say how well any of them were portrayed, just that they were present in the book and that none of the characters were judged or treated badly for these things. And each character was an individual person with their own personality traits and motivations and emotions.
I have to admit I had a hard time feeling gripped by the book or really connecting to the characters though. One problem I had was that there were so many characters that it was hard to remember who was who, what each looked like, what their relationships to each other were, etc. Plus there were four different POVs, and sometimes the chapters were very short, making it hard for me to sink into the story or into any of the characters’ minds. There was also so much going on—gargoyle/chimera attacks, dragons, trying to stop a war between chimera and humans, multiple romantic subplots, friend/family drama, secrets/conspiracies, a mysterious cloaked figure, one character could understand the moon language, one character was an empath… I also didn’t feel much chemistry in any of the romances. *SPOILER* I thought it was strange when Dahlia suddenly loved Nyx even though there were no signs of that before, at least not from what I could tell, not to mention that literally just hours prior to this love confession, Dahlia had broken up with her previous partner, who then died, and she was still grieving him. As for the romance between Rumor and Jude, it was kind of cute, but their feelings still seemed kinda strong considering they just met. *END SPOILER* But I did like all the consent, communication, and playfulness in the romantic scenes, like how characters asked before even kissing each other.
But despite not being gripped by the story, there were no serious flaws that I noticed. It didn’t quite suit my taste, but I can see other readers, especially teens, loving this YA dystopian in space.
Anyone who likes YA dystopian, other planets, and diverse characters.