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Review: Dove Arising

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Cover of Dove ArisingPhaet lives in a lunar colony with her mother and siblings. She speaks seldomly, preferring to let her best friend be her voice. But when her mother is arrested, everything changes. To keep her sister and brother from Shelter, an area of the colony where the poor live in degrading conditions, Phaet joins the Militia. As the youngest recruit of the Moon’s armed forces dedicated to protecting the colony from Earth invaders, she is an outsider. She forms an uneasy partnership with Wes, a boy who also doesn’t quite fit in with the other recruits. With his help, she hopes to  survive rigorous training, rank high enough to save her siblings, and free her mom. But as she uncovers secrets it becomes clear that  survival may depend on more that making it through training.

Dove Arising by debut sci-fi author Karen Bao is another book I picked up at BEA last year. The sequel just came out in February, so I’m a bit late to the game. But I was in the mood for some sci-fi and I was pleased to have a change from the post-apocalyptic urban dystopias that have been popular lately. There’s still a big dystopian element to this novel, but I ended up enjoying the way the Big Brother-like governing forces of the lunar colony made the stakes higher.

The idea of a female character going through a physically arduous process in order to save loved one is perhaps not the most original (it’s kind of Divergent meets Hunger Games scenario), but the setting and technology of the lunar base changes things up a bit. There’s hand to hand combat training and guns, but there’s also space craft and low-gravity. To me, the lunar setting seemed like an old-school approach to science fiction and I guess I haven’t seen much space-related related stuff lately, because I appreciated it.

Following along with another trend of YA dystopia, Bao includes a potential love triangle between Phaet, her best friend Umbriel, and Wes. It effectively complicates Phaet’s relationship with Umbriel, while drawing a line between the life she imagined having and the one she finds herself in because of her decision to join the militia. However, Wes maintains that he thinks of Phaet like a sister, so perhaps it won’t develop beyond this.

Phaet herself is a likeable character. She cares for her friends and family and is willing to put herself at risk to make sure they are okay. Her tendency to be quiet and allow others to speak is a bit unique in comparison to many stories’ heroes, and it adds weight to the moments when she does speak.  It also works to show how close she is with Umbriel as they communicate with various signals and signs.

This novel builds the world and introduces the characters well. It follows a lot of conventions, but is nonetheless enjoyable. I hope the sequel adds a little more originality but doesn’t deviate too much from the original plot line.

Final verdict: Dove Arising is an entertaining read for sci-fi fans who enjoy space and the idea of a lunar colony. I think it’ll be worth checking out the next book.

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